Released 6 November 2013|
PHILADELPHIA (November 6, 2013) – Each and every year, Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to enjoy food and fellowship with those closest to us. However, for those less fortunate, the comfort of a warm holiday meal for their families can seem like a distant dream.
Luckily, The Salvation Army is here to help. In a new initiative, The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia will be helping those less fortunate by preparing dinner for more than 600 families to enjoy together in their homes on Thanksgiving Day. Led by Major Hester Dixon, associate director of operations for The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia and The Salvation Army Soup's On! Project founder and chef Arlene "Wiggy" Olsen, the organization plans to feed more than 2,400 hungry mouths on the annual day of thanks.
"We want people to enjoy time with family during the holiday," said Dixon. "If we can add a sense of care and family to help people enjoy their holiday, then we've succeeded."
Turkey dinners will be prepared at USDA-certified kitchens and will include 6-7 ounces of meat per family, including some extra turkey for families to eat as leftovers the next day. Olsen will commence cooking the turkeys the Monday prior to the holiday. After being prepared, the meat will be stored in cooling trucks to remain fresh for the big day.
Leading up to the week of Thanksgiving, vouchers for the free meals will be distributed to those in need from Salvation Army corps community centers across the city. Each center has been given approximately 100 vouchers for families and individuals in their community.
Come Thanksgiving Day, those with vouchers will head to one of two designated community centers, The Salvation Army Philadelphia Temple Corps Community Center, 1340 Brown Street, or The Salvation Army Grays Ferry Community Center, 3225 Reed Street, to pick up their meals from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upon arrival, families will be escorted by a personal volunteer in an effort to provide each family with a sense of personal care.
"We like the idea of someone catering to these families," said Dixon. "It makes them feel special, and part of a bigger family."
The volunteers will guide each family to a series of food stations, where they will pick up the fixings and sides for their meal, from gravy, rolls, and cranberry sauce to bread and mayonnaise for leftover turkey sandwiches. The families will then pick up containers with stuffing, green beans, and mashed potatoes before receiving their turkey.
In addition to the many individual volunteers offering their assistance, corporate partners ACME Markets and Keystone First have provided support both financially and with volunteers of their own. With such sweeping enthusiasm leading up to the event, Dixon hopes this will be the first of many Thanksgiving events in the future.
"Hopefully it catches on throughout the city in years to come," said Dixon. "This event isn't about what The Salvation Army has done, it's about the power of people willing to help other people in need."
All members of the community who are interested in being a Thanksgiving meal recipient can go to their local Salvation Army corps community center to receive a voucher. Anyone interested in contributing as a volunteer may contact Gary Klemowicz at 215-825-4637 for further details.