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Hundreds treated to free dinner, gifts at Pa. Salvation Army hall

December 25, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE | Staff Correspondent
  • Volunteers pile on the goodies for attendees during the Franklin County Salvation Army Christmas dinner Saturday in Chambersburg, Pa.
By C.J. Lovelace, Staff Correspondent

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Christmas Day started very early for many area volunteers who were willing to give up all or part of their holiday to help others have a better one.


Starting at 5 a.m. for many, around 150 volunteers gave back for more than 500 people at the Franklin County Salvation Army Christmas dinner, held Saturday inside the Salvation Army lunch room on Lincoln Way West in Chambersburg.


Lynne Newman, coordinator of the event for the past 19 years, said they also delivered about 220 meals to those who could not make it to the dinner.


“We deliver to Meals on Wheels or senior center clients who would not have a meal otherwise,” said Newman, who is Jewish and does not celebrate Christmas.


Newman, who belongs to Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue in Chambersburg, said her church got involved almost two decades ago to give Salvation Army employees the day off to spend with their families, but also because they wanted to help others enjoy the holiday.

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“They should get presents. They should get food. They should get company,” Newman said. “Holidays are meant to share and meant to enjoy. And there’s nothing sadder than sitting at home.”


Newman said one woman who they delivered a meal to earlier in the day was so grateful for the meal and a free present.


“She said, ‘if it wasn’t for you, I’d be eating bologna and cheese,’” Newman said. “I don’t want that for anybody. So we make sure that they get presents and a good meal.”


A small mountain of several hundred presents sat along the far wall of the lunch room as people filed in for the meal. Those preparing the food took individual orders of each attendee’s free traditional holiday meal, including their choice of turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, and all the other trimmings.


Afterward, everyone could take a few gifts from the pile until they were gone.


Tyler Schott, a senior at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, deserves a lot of credit for the help he’s provided for the event over the past two years, Newman said. With the help of several people in his church congregation and high school lacrosse team, Schott got together the majority of the gifts for this year’s event, Newman said.


“Last year they brought in 400, and this year they brought in close to 600 presents,” said Newman. “He gets donations of money a lot of times and he said he had so much fun. He went out and he bought and he bought. It was lovely.”


Two additional boxes of toys were dropped off Christmas morning by the employees of the Chambersburg Lowe’s, one volunteer said.

Maj. Duane Harris of the Salvation Army said he is thankful to have the help of Newman’s synagogue and the community with the yearly event, which makes for a hectic Christmas morning and afternoon for everyone involved.


“It really shows how people can work together,” he said. “It shows the uniqueness of how you pull together.”


Harris, who has helped at different Salvation Army locations in five states, said events like this show the true caring nature of the people in the area.


“This area has become ultra-supportive of the community and it loves the Salvation Army,” Harris said.

“I’ve just been amazed in my time here at how it seems that everyone pulls together. We do not rely on government money to do what we do. We rely totally on community support.


“With Lynne being here and her group of people, and everybody out there in that room that’s supporting, it really just shows that,” Harris said.


The Salvation Army, which serves around 125 people on a daily basis, provides free meals five days per week, Harris said.

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