Not on the menu: no inside gathering for Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner

Not on the menu: no inside gathering for Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner
File photo of Thanksgiving dinner at the Watertown Salvation Army (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Thanksgiving is a time to be together and, for some, that means going to the Salvation Army communal dinner.

But this year, the holiday tradition will have to be a little different.

For as long as Major Karen Smullen can remember, the Salvation has been providing people with a hot Thanksgiving dinner and a sense of community.

“I’m gonna say it’s over 75 years,” she said.

This year, they’re already preparing for the meal. But inviting everyone to eat together isn’t on the menu.

“'Cause of COVID, we can’t have any more than 10 people in this room, so all meals will be take-out only,” said Smullen.

Volunteers say they’re devastated they can’t provide the comfort of togetherness this holiday.

“This year we have to do it out of the back door. It’s not going to have that family atmosphere feel,” said Lena Parker, volunteer.

“Our guests normally came in because they needed, they wanted that community. They didn’t want to put a TV dinner in the oven. And that is lost this year,” said Smullen.

Smullen says they usually feed around 600 people on Thanksgiving. This year, she thinks there will be even more because of the hardships brought on by the pandemic and Governor Cuomo’s new rule against gatherings larger than 10.

“That may cause us to get a few more persons who say, well, I used to go down to Aunt Jeannie’s, but now I’m alone, or I’m with my brother, maybe I could go get a meal from the salvation Army,” said Smullen.

Smullen says they should have enough food for everyone, but they need volunteers.

Terry Carpenter has been helping out for a few months now. He says more people should consider it.

“It feels good to help out in our community and do something to help people out, especially during COVID. It’s tough times, ya know,” he said.

Joanne Vann came in to add her name to the list. She says the holiday season is a good time to give back.

“I just love serving people and why not do it on the great day of Thanksgiving,” she said.

Major Smullen says they will make the best out of the situation, so everyone has a happy holiday. You can volunteer by calling them at 315-782-4470.

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