Thanksgiving blessings came in many forms Thursday at the Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau. It wasn't just about more than 1,545 meals served and delivered, but about connections formed between those in need, volunteers, and families.
Before the meal of turkey, dressing, chicken and dumplings, and all the trimmings is served, it all starts in the kitchen.
Nancy Lozano-Mulvaney has it down to a science.
"It's all about timing," said Lozano-Mulvaney.
She works two full-time jobs, yet has volunteered to be the master cook for seven years.
"I get here about six in the morning and get it started," said Lozano-Mulvaney. "It's so rewarding. Words can't describe how you feel at the end of the day. It's a feeling of great pride."
She's one of dozens of volunteers who made it possible for the Salvation Army to feed more 600 people on site and nearly 1000 others throughout the community.
"I'm just so happy with what I have I want to share," said Bill Jones.
Bill and his wife, Kimberley are famous for bringing their chicken and dumplings to the feast.
"It's a lot of work but that doesn't matter," said Bill. "I love hearing somebody enjoyed what we cooked."
"It feels good because that's what Thanksgiving is all about," said Kimberley. "Giving is so important. It's all about giving to others. It makes us feel very blessed and thankful."
"It's just an overwhelming joy to help," said Pam Koehler. She brought three of her six children to share the experience, Trey, Raelyn, and Kiya.
"It feels awesome," said Raelyn.
"I am thankful most for my family," said Kiya.
Many families say serving together has become a tradition. Darlene Allen was one of the original volunteers in 1983. She now serves with her children.
"It makes us feel proud," said son, Kelly Allen, a local firefighter.
"It's just something we like to do," said Darlene. "It's a tradition for us."
"It makes us feel very fortunate and reminds us not to take anything for granted," said Wendy Allen-Wilson, her daughter.
Other volunteers say giving becomes addictive.
"I've been doing this for nine years," said Randy Mulvaney. "We like to see people well fed."
People say the food is wonderful, but knowing others are willing to help is the best blessing of all.
"It saves me from having to stand up and cook," said Helen Dickerson. "I've had lung cancer and this saves me a lot."
"Last year there was this man here and he made me feel so welcome," said Kassie Callander. "Everyone is so nice."
"I'm so thankful for all the people here," said Trudia Mae Brooks. "It's good to be with people and not be alone."
"People who aren't from here may not realize that it is a blessed community in that when you say we need help the community responds in a positive way," said Major Ben Stillwell, of the Salvation Army. "We are so thankful for all of our volunteers."
The Salvation Army hopes the community responds big this year. They have a fund raising goal of 320,000. They expect to help 435 families. That's 1300 people. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army's coat drive continues all week Monday through Friday. You can stop in from nine to noon, and one to four.
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