Hundreds of guests, volunteers celebrate Thanksgiving at Watertown Salvation Army

Released November 24, 2017

WATERTOWN — One volunteer said it was "God's will" for her to spend her Thanksgiving delivering meals for the Watertown Salvation Army.

Summer Drop-in Center Director Lisa A. Safford said the organization had delivered or served take-out meals, to over 200 people by 12:30 on Thursday afternoon. The meal was served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army's 723 State St. location.

Mrs. Safford, who has been volunteering with the organization for 13 years, said it was "nice to know people aren't thinking only of themselves and what they have today, and that they're thinking of others."

Along with the 200 meals delivered or taken out, social worker Lena M. Parker said that over 120 people had been served in the Salvation Army dining hall, "not including second helpings."

Guests had plenty of opportunities for second helpings thanks to the 1,500 pounds of food which had been donated by Renzi Foodservice.

Volunteers had been preparing the food since Nov. 17, cooking eight turkeys per day. Soup kitchen manager Melody A. Eamer said 22 turkeys, each 24 pounds, were received from Renzi's and 12 cooked birds from Jefferson-Lewis BOCES.

"It's been crazy," Mrs. Eamer said, "but a good kind of crazy." To cook the turkeys, she said, volunteers would "get here at 6 a.m. and not leave til 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon."

The meals included turkey, potatoes, bread, stuffing, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of desserts. Social worker Mrs. Parker said two dozen pumpkin pies had been donated, along with peach, apple and blueberry.

Mrs. Parker said there was no shortage of volunteers — at least 20 more than she expected.

"I was counting on 80 volunteers this year, but we've actually got 100. If someone wants to come by and help, we won't turn them away," she said.

Mrs. Safford said she had seen a mix of old and new volunteers at this year's event. Some people, like Mrs. Eamer, bring their families to help. She said her son, brother, and fiancé had all come by to volunteer.

"I love it here, and I love serving people. Sometimes we're the only smile our guests may see today, so I always tell the volunteers to put on their best smiles," Mrs. Eamer said.

Mrs. Parker said the atmosphere of closeness and happiness is important for events like the Thanksgiving dinner.

"It's nice for everyone to feel like they're part of a family," she said.

The Watertown Salvation Army has been hosting its Thanksgiving dinner for more than 25 years, and serves hot meals six days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Article sourced from Watertown Daily Times.