Salvation Army dinner features food, football, love
JANESVILLE The day started with coffee, muffins and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Then came sausage, cheese, crackers and conversation, finally followed by dinner, dessert and football.
The main difference between Thursday’s Salvation Army Thanksgiving celebration and a meal at home were the number of people involved, as more than 400 guests and volunteers gathered for this feast.
“Since this was going to be my Thanksgiving, I wanted to have what I would have in my home,” said Major Ruth Fay of the Salvation Army in Janesville. “People can spend the day here.”
And they did.
The day started early with guests from the God Is Faithful Temporary Shelter and the Janesville Jets. The Jets lent their strength to the enterprise, setting up hundreds of chairs and dozens of tables in the gym.
Meanwhile, the regular dining area was transformed into a living room, with a big screen television projected on the wall and tables set up for coffee and snacks.
Although the Thanksgiving dinner has been held for years, this is the second year that Fay has transformed her headquarters into her living room.
“This meal isn’t just for the poor. It’s for people who need a family to be with on Thanksgiving,” Fay said. “My parents live in Upper Michigan, and they’ll attending a church supper for Thanksgiving.”
Because the meal was designed to create an impromptu family, Fay and her volunteers worked hard to include visitors in activities ranging from karaoke to simple dinner table conversation.
“We want people to know that they’re important to us, that they don’t have to rush away after eating,” Fay said.
She also wanted the volunteers to feel the joy of connecting with others.
Arlene Iverson, 6, of Janesville seemed to be having a good time. It was her first year as a volunteer, but she had a good role model in her older sister, Alyssa, 11.
This was Alyssa’s second year as a volunteer.
“It’s for a good cause,” Alyssa said.
Alyssa carried around the dessert tray, offering diners pie, bars and cupcakes with a shy smile.
Miranda Nelson, 9, of Evansville was volunteering with her brother Wyatt, 7, and her mother and father, Teena and Mitchell.
Why did she decide to trade a piece of her turkey day for a stint of serving meals and busing dishes?
“Because we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Miranda said.
And what does that mean?
“God cares for us,” Wyatt said, after some thought.
And that, the Nelson kids believe, means caring for others.