Salvation Army ready to serve Thanksgiving feast

Photo by Brett Dunlap Volunteers Isabel Lynch, Olivia Hendricks and Bella Marteney work cutting up vegetables Wednesday to help the Salvation Army in Parkersburg prepare for their annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner today.

PARKERSBURG — The Salvation Army will hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner today starting at 11:30 a.m. at their Fifth Street location.

Over the past week volunteers have been getting the traditional dinner prepared.

“We are all ready to go,” said Melinda Johnson of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and Chair of Outreach during Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Anyone who comes in the door can eat here.”

The Salvation Army is expecting to do 600-700 meals for Wood County. There are 500 meals expected to be done for Jackson and Pleasants counties.

The meals will be “traditional Thanksgiving Day dinners” consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, rolls and cole slaw.

Photo provided by the Camden Clark Medical Center Clinten Gillis and Cathy Wheeler of Nutritional Services put turkeys in the oven for the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner.

There were 46 turkeys, which were cooked earlier this week at Camden Clark Medical Center (CCMC).

“It’s always been a priority of mine to serve our fellow mankind,” said Chef Clinten Gillis, Production Supervisor at CCMC Nutritional Services Department. “It is an honor and a privilege to be able to prepare the turkeys for the Salvation Army and help those who are less fortunate.”

The Camden Clark Medical Center’s mission is to meet the healthcare needs of the community, and good nutrition is an important part of that, said Sherri Wheeler, Employee Communication and Recognition Liaison.

“The medical center has always been focused on assisting those around us in every way possible, so partnering with the Salvation Army is only natural,” she said.

A group of volunteers from Vienna Baptist Church came to the Salvation Army and cleaned all the turkeys and sliced them on Tuesday, Johnson said.

Photo provided by the Camden Clark Medical Center Ian Meeks, Nutritional Services, takes out the turkeys for the Salvation Army annual dinner. Camden Clark Medical Center prepared 46 turkeys for the Salvation Army.

Many of the hot food items will be fixed this morning with volunteers coming to the Salvation Army to begin the final preparation at around 9 a.m.

In addition to the meal served at the Salvation Army, a number of people have reserved meals to be delivered to their homes.

“Last year, we had 150 people eat here and had 350 home deliveries,” Johnson said. “We will have 500 deliveries this year.

“We have more of those than ever because our senior population has grown so much.”

Home delivered meals had to have already been pre-ordered. No additional orders can be taken today.

The Salvation Army has already had around 40 volunteers help with preparation of the meal this week. Many people return year after year to do certain jobs.

They are expecting to have 100-200 volunteers today from people serving food to preparing meals for home delivery and to do the home deliveries.

“We have a group of volunteers who will box those up and send them out,” Johnson said.

Kitchen volunteers have to be over 16 years old.

People who want to help do home delivered meals need to be at the Salvation Army at around 11 a.m.

“We need a lot of volunteers for deliveries,” Johnson said. “They pick up the meals and get addresses to deliver them.

“People can spend an hour doing that and they can help us tremendously without taking the whole day.”

The annual meal is paid for through the annual Red Kettle donations. In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, the donations help to pay for other programs and support the Salvation Army provides.

“We are very careful trying to make sure we can provide our support in the community,” Johnson said.

In addition to that financial support, people help the Salvation Army help the community all year round.

“The volunteers make the program work and the donations make the program work,” Johnson said.

For many people, the Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army will be the only holiday meal they get on Thanksgiving.

“We feed a lot of people,” Johnson said. “We also provide fellowship for a lot of people.”

Coming in on Thanksgiving Day helps a lot in the community understand the needs faced by many locally.

“We provide a way for our community to know what the need is,” Johnson said. “There is no group that knows the need better than the Salvation Army and manages it better.

“Young people, old people, anyone can come and learn who needs something in our community and they can help provide that. Our young people learn what it takes to provide for people with the work. It is a true education for a lot of people.”