By Riley Manning
TUPELO – The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is like a NASCAR pit crew at making dressing.
Thursday morning, 15 members of the SAWA, led by Janie Smith, assembled and prepared 42 deep pans of dressing in under an hour for the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving lunch.
“We prepare to serve 3,000,” said Martha Bland, auxiliary president. “I’ve been doing this seven or eight years and I’m always surprised at how fast we get it done.”
The yearly preparation of the dressing has become a warm tradition. Outside of the Thanksgiving lunch, the auxiliary delivers meals on wheels five days a week and makes pottery year-round for the Army’s annual Empty Bowls event, which takes place on March 5, Ash Wednesday, next year. But of all the things she does, Bland said working with her friends in the kitchen over steaming pans of onions, eggs, and cornmeal is her favorite.
“I make sure never to miss ‘D-day,’” she said.
The lunch is served each year in the Salvation Army’s community center, and usually attracts a few thousand. Couple that with hundreds of plates ordered for delivery, the ladies make just enough to get everyone a helping.
But Bland said many who attend the lunch aren’t just looking for physical sustenance.
“So many people who come just need the fellowship, the interaction with other people,” Bland said.
After Thanksgiving, Bland said the Salvation Army and the Women’s Auxiliary will turn their full attention to Christmas and the Angel Tree campaign. Most important, Bland said, the Army is in need of volunteers to serve as the charity’s signature bell-ringers at over 20 locations across Lee, Prentiss, and Union counties.
Without volunteers, the Army must hire bell ringers, using money that could go toward needy families who are financially stretched during the holiday season.
To order a carry out plate for Thanksgiving, call the Salvation Army headquarters in Tupelo at (662) 842-9222.