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Salvation Army serves feast

November 24, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

On an average weekday, the Salvation Army in Hagerstown feeds 115 to 125 people. On Tuesday, that number grew to 176 as the agency dished up its traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

"I started cooking the five turkeys and the stuffing on Monday," said Helena Hart, a staff member who has worked in the kitchen at the Salvation Army for six years.

A line began forming outside the 534 W. Franklin St. headquarters at 11 a.m., 30 minutes before workers began serving food. Inside, a group of volunteers and staff scurried around the room, setting out the silverware, wedges of pie, baskets of rolls and soda pop.

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"For 30 years, I have been volunteering here four days a week," said Lou Sloan of Hagerstown. "I love helping people."

Some of those being served had eaten there before.

"I come here every day," said Ernest Thomas, 53, of Hagerstown. "The food is good here."

The group Tuesday consisted mostly of men, although there were a few women and a couple of families with children. Some people had to wait for a spot to sit, and at one point more places were set at empty tables.

In between bites, Charles Stotelmyer said he wouldn't have anyplace to eat if not for the Salvation Army.

"It's a good thing that they do this," he said.

The money to support the holiday meal and all the other weekday meal programs comes from donations received throughout the year. But the Christmas season is a critical time for raising funds for a number of programs, according to Maj. Butch Mallard.

"So far the kettle drive is going well, but we really need to do our work in the next four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas," Mallard said.

In addition to the weekday meal program, the Salvation Army provides food and toys to qualifying families during the holiday season. Volunteers soon will be assembling those for distribution closer to Christmas.

"We all need a little help sometime," Sloan said.

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