Fifty-five volunteers of all ages helped feed the needy at the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner on Nov. 23, in the corps gymnasium located on 320 W. Windsor Road in Glendale.
Every year, the Salvation Army provides a Thanksgiving meal for the less fortunate. The homeless, lonely, and financially needy are welcomed by volunteers and treated to food, drinks and good neighborly hospitality. Over 200 people were expected to have had their Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army.
The event was dependent on volunteers and on donations from the community. The advisory board donated 20 turkeys cooked by the Glendale Hilton.
Turkey was not the only dish served. It would not have been a Thanksgiving feast without pumpkin pie, string beans, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, which were all served as well.
Among the many volunteers was Councilman Ara Najarian and his family, who were all serving up hot plates.
Several people volunteered with their family members.
Debbie and Greg Soohoo volunteered this year because their daughter needed to fulfill community service hours for her high school. They decided the entire family should be involved.
“I think it’s really a blessing to serve others on Thanksgiving,” said Debbie Soohoo “Volunteering again for Thanksgiving is something that we’ll totally be open to. We’re going to be volunteering during Christmas for the Tree Angel event as well.”
The Tree Angels is a Salvation Army event which coordinates with companies or individuals to adopt a family for the holidays and make their Christmas wishes come true by purchasing a Christmas tree and the gifts the children had asked for.
Volunteers are needed to help box presents and organize the event on Dec. 14 through the 16. On Dec. 16, the gifts are distributed to the children at the Salvation Army.
Angie Garcia, 22, and her sister Charlene, 19, were encouraged by their mother to volunteer, and have been doing so every Thanksgiving at the Salvation Army for the past five years.
“Volunteering here also looks good on our resumes,” said Garcia. “It shows that we do extra work for community. It makes me feel like I’ve done my part in making people feel welcome. They probably won’t have a Thanksgiving dinner at their home, so it gives them an opportunity to have one here.”
The Garcia sisters plan on volunteering with the Tree Angels program as well, which they do every other year.
The work of the volunteers does not go unappreciated by the diners.
“God bless them for doing this for us,” said Christine Celaya, who enjoyed her Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army headquarters. “I thank everyone for participating and giving the homeless something to eat. I really appreciate it. To the people who help prepare this, I give them thanks.”
Captain James Sloan, who has been in charge of the Glendale Salvation Army for the past five years, emphasizes the fact that most people who come to the Salvation Army for meals are not homeless, but are low-income families who cannot afford to feed their family a decent Thanksgiving meal.
“Even for a person in a family making 15 bucks an hour with two or three kids, it is almost impossible to make it in Los Angeles today,” said Sloan. “Somehow they have to make things happen differently for them, and this is one of those alternatives.”
Volunteers start to sign up to help with the meals beginning in August and September.
“Even this morning, I received phone calls from people who want to volunteer with us,” said Sloan. “We just don’t have work for them all to do since we already have so many helping. It’s a good problem though, because it shows that many people want to be involved, and that’s a good feeling to be a part of.”
In his second year as a volunteer, 10-year-old Alec Stick is an example of what is meant by “volunteers of all ages.” He came to volunteer with his family and was more than eager to help with serving lemonade and orange juice.
“Being around people that really don’t have homes or live in homes that are broken down [makes it] nice to help because it shows that people really care about them,” said Stick.
“Volunteering here is a great way to serve Glendale, and it’s our first time as a family doing this,” said Greg Soohoo. “The Salvation Army is very well organized and they’ve been doing this for so long. It keeps getting better and better.”