Close to 1,000 meals were served by Salvation Army volunteers on Thanksgiving Day, stretching the agency’s food supply to its limit.
Adding new stops such as the Tupelo-Lee County Adult Jail and the Hospice Center to the delivery route increased the total number of meals served by 300 to 400 meals, Salvation Army officials said, leaving many of the volunteers hoping they had enough food to serve everyone in need.
“We’ve never used more than 25 turkeys,” said Jennie Lynn Johnson, who is credited with beginning the annual dinner years ago. “This year we have used 41 turkeys and we don’t have very many left. I just hope that we get through the day.”
Volunteers, many of whom arrived at the Salvation Army Community Center before the sun rose Thanksgiving morning, spent most of the day counting the number of meals they had served from the cramped kitchen area and packing holiday boxes with dry food that will be distributed closer to Christmas time.
“We have so many volunteers today that we are trying to get ahead of the game a little bit by having them start stuffing some of the boxes,” said Donna Carroll, Salvation Army community resources coordinator. “They have done a great job and we really appreciate their help.”
“We just felt like we don’t give enough during the year and this is a way for us to help others,” she said as she slid an aluminum pan filled with dressing into the oven. “We just feel good about doing it.”
Bolton said she and her husband, who woke up at 4 a.m. to volunteer at the Salvation Army, choose to come to Tupelo every Thanksgiving because they couldn’t find any place closer to home that offered the same experience.
“I called all across Alabama and I couldn’t find any other place that has anything like this,” she said. “This is just a great thing to be a part of.”
Thomas Brown, from Spotted Horse, Wyo., is working in Tupelo this holiday season and decided he would stop by the Salvation Army to see if the agency needed an extra hand.
“I read about it (the annual dinner) in the paper last week and figured I’d come down and help them out a little,” Brown said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve picked meat off the turkeys, I’ve unloaded the trucks, I’ve loaded the trucks and I’ve packed boxes. I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
It’s with the help of people like Bolton and Brown, and a lot of prayer, that the Salvation Army is able to serve meals to so many needy people, Johnson said.
“We really cut it close this time,” Johnson said. “But the Lord always gives us enough to get by.”