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Salvation Army diners are thankful a few days early

November 25, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- As a kitchen crew tended to the turkeys and mashed potatoes, and teen volunteers readied the tables, a line formed outside The Salvation Army in Hagerstown on Tuesday.

The line grew from one dozen to two dozen to more -- from the side door, down the path, to the sidewalk.

They were waiting for the annual Thanksgiving meal The Salvation Army offers to anyone who wants to eat.

Sue Wolfe, a parent supervising Grace Academy's missions team, gave instructions to two volunteer greeters, 12-year-old Marissa Frederickson and 17-year-old Diana Robison.

The room fell silent as Diane Rowe, the kitchen manager, said a prayer.

Then, the door opened and those who were hungry came in.

Within a minute, plates of food were on their way.

"Hi! Happy Thanksgiving!," Wolfe said, demonstrating the cheerful welcome. "We're going to get you a nice meal."

Rowe said she cooked six 25-pound turkeys in anticipation of about 200 guests.

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Last year, about 140 people came, but Rowe figured a more dire economy might bring more to The Salvation Army's dinner hall.

The menu also included dressing, sauerkraut and corn. Volunteers served drinks and sliced up different flavors of pie for dessert.

And it was all very good, diners said.

"The meal is great and very delicious," diner Leroy Dotson Jr. said, "and the cooks know what they're doing."

Dotson sat next to his girlfriend, Doris Campbell, who recently moved back to Hagerstown's West End because of "too much drama" at the Washington Gardens apartment complex.

Monday was Campbell's first day ringing a bell and watching over a Salvation Army collection pot at Wal-Mart.

She said she likes the fact that The Salvation Army offers a daily meal for the homeless and others in need.

At another table, Danny Goyt, a bell ringer at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown, had finished his meal.

"I have no problem chowing down," he said.

At a table in the back, sisters Susie and Lora Walker sat and ate, along with Lora Walker's 1-year-old son, Irayvion.

On this day, Wolfe and Rowe explained to volunteers beforehand, the meal was different. Diners were served at their seats instead of serving themselves.

The Grace Academy volunteers hustled to and fro, bringing plates and clearing them away.

Wolfe said Grace Academy's missions team has helped at The Salvation Army meal for the last five years or so.

The volunteer effort, she said, is a way to serve the community through the ideals of Jesus Christ "and show love to people -- to see how blessed we are."

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