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Salvation Army gears up to help

Nov. 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Thanksgiving dinner expected to serve at least 400

HUNTINGTON -- The next seven days are busy ones at the Salvation Army.

Between a community Thanksgiving meal and the start of the season for the organization's bell ringers outside area businesses, a little extra help could go a long way, according to Major Matt Riley with the Huntington office.

"Everything is ready to go, and we're excited. We just need some help serving," Riley said, speaking about the annual Thanksgiving feast which feeds 400 to 500 people. "We want our guests to come in, be served and feel special."

The Thanksgiving dinner, complete with 20 turkeys, sides and desserts furnished by area Walmart stores, will take place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Salvation Army, 1223 3rd Ave., Huntington. Entertainment also will be provided in the Salvation Army's chapel. The meal, Riley said, is sometimes not about the food at all, but the feeling of being a part of the fellowship of the day.

"I had a man in his 50s who's a veteran, and he's struggling right now in a small, single-room apartment within walking distance of us. He came in and asked if we were going to do anything to help at Thanksgiving, and he said he was so glad we were because otherwise he would be sitting at home alone not being able to enjoy any festivities," Riley said. "He's excited for the meal, but maybe more excited for the fellowship."

Riley said the need for help among those struggling or less fortunate is as great as he's ever seen it.

"There's not a day goes by when we don't have five or six people waiting in our lobby to get services," he said. "It's difficult with the economy the way it is, more people are unemployed or on food stamps and struggling to make it.

"It's really important to have this Thanksgiving meal to offer to the community a day to come in and sit down, have a time of fellowship and try to encourage them, let them know what else we can do for them throughout the year. It's open to anybody who feels they need it. It doesn't matter why you're here. We're just glad you are here."

Riley added that seven Salvation Army bell ringers were placed at area businesses Friday, with more to follow in the coming week. Most bell ringers are paid for their work, and the money raised in the kettles near Christmas is not just used for Christmas.

"This drive is to help get us through the whole year, and we try to be the best stewards we can with our community's dollar," he added.

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