Volunteers needed for meal giveaways

Posted: November 20, 2012

The Winchester Star

Lynn McCauley, chair of the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner at the First Presbyterian Church, unpacks cartons of turkeys at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Monday. He was handing out turkeys to the volunteers who will be cooking the 115 birds for Thursday’s dinner. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

Winchester — The annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner needs a little more volunteer spirit.

It takes about 200 volunteers to pull off the community event, which last year served a hot Thanksgiving meal to 1,200 people in need, said event chair Lynn McCauley.

But volunteer numbers are down, especially for delivery drivers, which could make it harder to provide the meals in a timely manner. More than half the meals prepared — about 650 — for last year’s event were delivered to area homes or motels.

“Maybe people are going to commit late, but we are hopeful for more participation,” said McCauley, of Frederick County, adding the volunteers need to sign up in advance not just show up on the day.

It will take two kitchens running at full throttle to get all of the food ready for the annual holiday meal, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church on the Loudoun Street Mall, McCauley said.

Turkey and all the trimmings

Preparations are under way to cook 115 turkeys, 500 pounds of potatoes, and countless other Thanksgiving goodies to serve at the church at 116 S. Loudoun St. or for takeout or delivery for the elderly and shut-ins, he said.

In addition to the turkeys and some other dishes being prepared in private homes, volunteers will cook from 7 a.m. to mealtime Thursday at First Presbyterian and Market Street United Methodist Church next door, he said. Others will serve the meals, greet the guests, clean up or deliver food to people in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties.

At the end of the meal, there will be more than 1,000 full bellies to show for all the hard work, McCauley said.

“There are no gimmicks,” he said. “It is just about trying to provide a wholesome meal on the day of thanks.”

Giving back

Helping with the meal goes deeper than just people wanting to feel good about themselves, said the Rev. Rich Reifsnyder, pastor of First Presbyterian. Often, volunteers feel giving back in some measure is a way of “expressing their own thanks to God” and showing appreciation for the “the blessings they have been given in life,” he said.

First Presbyterian has been serving the meal in conjunction with the Salvation Army for more than 20 years, he said. It has become a signature outreach event for the church’s congregation that members love being involved in. But the scope of involvement goes well beyond one church, he said.

“It draws in a wide ecumenical group of folks, which is another thing I like about it,” said Reifsnyder, of Winchester. “We host it and we are heavily involved in it in terms of staffing and funding, but it is broader than just our church. It is a community event.”

Expression of cooperation

That community effort starts long before the first turkey goes in the oven, McCauley said. First Presbyterian spends about $2,500 to put on the meal, but that is after numerous donations and discounts from area individuals and businesses.

The event is a “wonderful expression of cooperation” between the church, the community and the Salvation Army to make sure that at least on this day, nobody goes hungry who doesn’t have to, Reifsnyder said.

“Even if they have a hard time making a go of it other times of the year, at least on this day they are well fed and in a hospitable, welcoming atmosphere,” he said.

Information

To order a meal to be delivered in advance, call Betty Sue Unger at 540-662-3564. On Thanksgiving Day, call First Presbyterian Church at 540-662-3824.

To make a donation or volunteer to help prepare, serve or deliver the meal, call 540-667-3550.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com