Photo by Mark Gibson
Salvation army lieutenants John and Sharlena Cardenas, The Dalles, pose with some of the 41 turkeys they were cooking Monday afternoon for the Community Thanksgiving meal at St. Mary’s Academy on Thursday.
As of Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Prep work began Monday for the annual community Thanksgiving meal, which takes place from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s Academy in The Dalles. The free meal is open to anyone.
Cooking began in the commercial kitchen at Columbia Gorge Community College Monday and will continue daily through Wednesday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Anyone who wishes to volunteer can go to the college to pitch in.
Volunteers are also needed for Thanksgiving day, to help serve, to deliver meals, and to clean up, said Kristen Harmon, business manager for the Salvation Army, which puts on the event.
The meal includes turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, pie, and coffee, water and juice, said Harmon.
Volunteering at, and eating at, the Thanksgiving meal is a longstanding tradition for many families, Harmon said.
“There is one family, and there’s multiple generations, but they all show up and that’s their Thanksgiving celebration. We’ve had single parents with a child come and help serve in the line to teach them what it means to help others,” she said.
Anyone is welcome to the dinner, she said. She’s seen everyone from the homeless to business owners, city leaders and local residents at the meal. “Nobody has to prove that they need to be there, it’s a community meal, not necessarily low income,” she said. “Everybody from all walks of life.”
To sign up to volunteer, or to donate money, visit thedalles.salvationarmy.org online. Harmon said people can also just show up to volunteer even if they don’t sign up ahead of time.
To order a meal delivered to you, call 541-705-4652.
The Salvation Army starts collecting cash donations in late September, then purchases all its food for preparation at the college kitchen. Several people from local restaurants help run the kitchen at St. Mary’s, to ensure proper food handling practices are followed.
“They still need lots of volunteers if anybody is available,” Harmon said. On Thanksgiving day, volunteers are needed starting at 7 a.m. to help with setup. They will begin preparing and packing the meals to be delivered at about 11 a.m. She said there is always a need for people to help with cleanup. That work begins between 2 and 2:30 as the meal begins to wind down, she said.