Salvation Army readies holiday work

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

The Salvation Army is about 40 turkeys shy of having enough birds for its annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner, to be held at its headquarters building, 701 Good Hope in Cape Girardeau.

"This could be the first time we've ever had to purchase turkeys," said Maj. Robert Gauthier.

Gauthier and his wife, Maj. Joyce Gauthier, and volunteers have been preparing Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army seven years.

"We usually cook from 75 to 100 turkeys and a dozen hams for the annual dinner," said Robert Gauthier.

Donations for the meal, like turkeys, candied yams, large cans of corn and green beans, are still needed, he said.

To make a donation, the items may be taken to the Salvation Army office on weekdays.

"This has become a big event," Gauthier said. "We feed from 600 to 900 people."

The dinner is for anyone.

The Salvation Army is gearing up for a number of holiday programs to benefit the needy.

The Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

Applications are being accepted daily for Toybox and Christmas for the Elderly.

Applications are being accepted for the annual Christmas baskets of food.

Familiar red kettles and bell-ringers have taken up their posts.

Coming up soon is the Salvation Army's Tree of Lights.

Toybox drive

The Southeast Missourian newspaper lends a hand in two of the programs. The newspaper is partners with the Cape Girardeau Jaycees for Toybox.

New toys are collected for children ages 2 through 12 and delivered just before Christmas.

The newspaper and the Cape Girardeau County Health Department team up to sponsor Christmas for the Elderly. In the weeks prior to Christmas, stories of our elderly neighbors in need appear in the newspaper, along with a wish list for Christmas.

Each year, the holiday gift lists have been filled and additional money collected. Those dollars are used throughout the year to offer assistance.

Collections for these two programs will start the week after Thanksgiving.

Money collected during the Christmas Tree of Lights and bell-ringing campaigns are used to help fund the Christmas basket program where food for a substantial holiday meal is given to needy families.

The Salvation Army also provides toys for needy children outside the Toybox delivery area.

Bell-ringing is a part of the Army's annual "Tree of Lights" campaign. Kettles are placed outside as many as 15 businesses, including Kmart, Hobby Lobby, Schnucks, Westfield Shoppingtown Center, and Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, by its national policy, limits the kettles to 14 days.

"But by picking weekends, we do well at Wal-Mart," said Gauthier.

Westfield Shoppingtown Center allows three places for the kettles, including the front entrance.

The kettles usually provide from $150,000 to $170,000 to the annual campaign. The money raised through the Tree of Lights campaign goes not only for the Christmas assistance program funded by the Salvation Army but also for other assistance projects.

The organization assists needy families with rent, utility bills, food expenses, clothing costs, and prescription medicine bills. They also provide gasoline, and hotel and transportation vouchers for transients who need assistance, Gauthier said.

Volunteers from throughout the community will begin working at 7:30 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. The meal will be served from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation's Army's facility. Other volunteers will deliver meals to people who cannot get out of their homes.

Information about the Salvation Army programs is available by calling (573) 335-7000.

Information about Toybox and Christmas for the Elderly is available by calling Kim McDowell at (573) 335-6611, extension 101.

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