Oklahomans Give Thanks By Serving The Needy

Thursday, November 22nd 2007, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The seasonal scent of turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce filled the large hall where elderly couples shared tables with children and adults they had never met at the Salvation Army's annual Thanksgiving Day dinner. Holiday music wafted from a stage as dozens of volunteers clad in red Salvation Army vests moved from table to table with trays of sliced pumpkin and pecan pies or escorted new arrivals to their place at a table.

"I love Thanksgiving. I love this event," Salvation Army spokeswoman Heide Brandes said Thursday as she surveyed the scene.

"You have the people who are the haves, and you have the people who are have nots. And this brings them together.

"It's really the epitome of fellowship."

The Salvation Army's Oklahoma City event coincided with others at churches, rescue missions and auditoriums across the state where hundreds of volunteers served free Thanksgiving Day meals to thousands of Oklahoma's neediest citizens.

"We are definitely way over what we served before," Jolene Evans at the First Baptist Church in Enid said shortly before noon. "We've got people in line and we're setting up more tables right now."

Volunteers at the Enid church and others elsewhere in Oklahoma said more people in need were arriving at Thanksgiving Day dinners than in previous years, especially the elderly.

"Charities all over the state have been seeing more people this year," Brandes said. The organization's Oklahoma City pantry had to close four times in October after running out of food due to high demand.

"We're seeing a lot more people in need this year," Evans said. "It's definitely a blessing to see everyone come together. It's a well-oiled machine."

An estimated 1,200 people had made their way to the Salvation Army's Oklahoma City event within an hour after the doors opened at 11 a.m., but the group expected more. Morning temperatures in the 20s probably convinced many to stay inside until the afternoon, Brandes said.