November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Salvation Army

Seeking fellowship and food, scores of residents came to The Salvation Army’s Stearns Street soup kitchen for a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

 “This is a nice thing they do,” said Jason Lopez, 38, who has lived in Bristol for a couple of years.

Lopez said he went to the soup kitchen for dinner – turkey and dressing, carrots, cranberry sauce, turkey soup, desserts and more – in search of a good meal and “to see some friends.”

Overseeing the dinner was a volunteer crew from General Electric that has been lending a hand for 17 consecutive Thanksgivings. It included some children and grandparents, but most of the helpers work for the company’s Plainville plant.

“It’s a family thing,” said Peter Boychuck, an engineer who has been involved with the soup kitchen’s Thanksgiving meals the entire 17-year span.

He said he had no idea how many people were served a meal during the 90-minute mid-day dinner, but it was “a lot.”

There were so many, in fact, that they were starting to run out of turkey toward the end of the day.

“There were more people than usual,” Boychuck said.

Walking out with a red poinsietta, Lisa McDonald said she came for the meal because she hasn’t worked in months and her two children were away with their father.

“I wanted to see what it was like,” McDonald said. “They are good people to do this.”

She said she was especially touched to receive a flower to take home with her.

“It will look nice on my mantel,” McDonald said.

Boychuck said the volunteers are happy to spend their holiday at the Salvation Army. He said he never has any trouble rounding up a crew. It just takes an emailed request to come up with the necessary numbers, he said.

Some come the night before to set up, he said, while others help early in the day to prepare for the meals. Still others assist with serving or cleaning up.

“All in all, it’s a good time,” he said.

The volunteers serve people who come in and sit down at the tables, much like a restaurant rather than a cafeteria-style arrangement.

“They’re going to have a lunch. They’re going home with flowers. It is a special day for them,” Boychuck said.


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