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With all the trimmings

Volunteer group offers meals, gifts during festive time

Volunteer group offers meals, gifts during festive time

December 26, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Charity doesn't take holidays off.

Somebody needs to be there to serve free meals to the community, especially on Christmas.

Many years ago, members of Congregation Sons of Israel in Chambersburg decided that the local Salvation Army chapter does enough for the needy all year to merit getting Christmas off.

Temple volunteers decided to run the annual community meal at The Salvation Army on Lincoln Way West so Christians could enjoy their holiday.

On Sunday - which also marked the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah - the Christmas tradition continued for hundreds of diners and volunteers, many of whom were Christian.

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Early in the afternoon, organizer Lynne Newman predicted that about 300 free meals would be given out, a higher amount than usual.

Al Good, who supervised the kitchen serving staff, agreed that demand for meals was higher this year.

"We normally do 275," Good said. "We're probably (going to be) above that."

Still working on a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and stuffing, Leon Rideout declared it "a wonderful, excellent meal."

Rideout said he usually knows people at The Salvation Army, but didn't see any while he was there. He didn't seem to mind eating alone, though - in a packed room.

"I come to socialize and for fellowship," said Rideout, who planned to visit friends afterward.

Similarly, Shirley Bevan came to The Salvation Army on Sunday with family and a friend "to be around other people."

Bevan ended up with a bonus, winning a raffle for a toy Kawasaki Power Strobe Guitar for sons Christopher, 6, and Brian, 3.

Newman said everyone who came was entitled to two wrapped gifts. Packages had tags on them with such instructions as "girl 5-7" and "13-up male or female."

Steve McNew of Chambersburg, a gift distributor, said he volunteered at the meal because his mother, Geraldine, did.

"It's new for both of us," McNew said. "Seeing these little kids - their faces light up."

A tornado of preparations took place in the hours leading up to the late-morning meal.

Newman said a crew wrapped everything in two hours Sunday morning.

Newman got to The Salvation Army at 5:45 a.m. to cook six turkeys. She had prepared another eight turkeys starting Christmas Eve at 10 p.m.

"Everything" - almost - "is done today," she said Sunday. "It's an amazing thing to see."

Newman was effusive about the volunteer crew, which she said often equals the number of people who asked for meals.

Parents who volunteered brought their children to help, too, which Newman liked.

"I want the kids to understand how much fun it is to give," she said.

As one of the veteran helpers, Good - who belongs to Chambersburg Church of the Brethren - had the kitchen routine finely tuned.

The volunteer wait staff took orders on checklists and brought them to him.

Two assembly lines - designated "red" and "green" - placed food on plates and passed them along.

"Red line: No dark meat. Everything else," Good called out. A minute later, he had a plate piled that way.

Meals also were packed into containers for deliveries.

Newman said dozens of meals went to people unable to leave their homes or who were on duty as police officers, firefighters or emergency dispatchers.

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