SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of volunteers spent their Thanksgiving holiday giving back to the community by delivering meals across the Salt Lake Valley for the Salvation Army.
Some families said volunteering their time in this way has become a Thanksgiving tradition.
“It wouldn't be thanksgiving without a community reaching out to one another,” said Troy Trimmer, Salt Lake Basin Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
He said that on a day when most attend a big family gathering, there are people who don’t get that experience. Not only do they not get a Turkey Day meal, Trimmer said those people have less opportunity to connect with others. Many of those people, he indicated, are senior citizens.
“It’s a need bigger than food. Thanksgiving really is about connecting,” Trimmer said. “It’s about connecting with individuals and people.”
With that goal in mind, 200-300 volunteers showed up to the Salvation Army and dished up individual dinners to deliver to senior citizens and underprivileged families.
The line wove through the gymnasium, with each volunteer collecting Thanksgiving staples like turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes and yams.
Beth Parker stood behind the rolls section with her 4-year-old twin daughters, handing out packets of butter for the rolls. She said her family has volunteered at the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving for 22 years. She said her mother and aunt started the family tradition when Parker was a teenager.
Now, all three generations look forward to coming every year.
“My kids don’t even really care about the meal on Thanksgiving,” Parker said. “They just say, ‘Are we going to the Salvation Army?’ So, it’s really fun.”
After the volunteers collect a container full of food, they pack up a bag with pie and a laminated place mat and set out on their delivery route.
Chad and Amanda Cox drove around West Valley with their children making deliveries to senior citizens. The family of seven said this is the eighth year they’ve participated.
“Most of them are grateful just to have visitors just as much as the meal, I think that’s what we’ve experienced over the years” Chad Cox said. “Just someone to come see them, because often times they don’t have family.”
As they dropped off the meals, the recipients expressed gratitude and appreciation, exchanging a quick "Happy Thanksgiving" with a smile.
The families who take the time to help may not be at their own tables on Turkey Day, but they indicated that doing this instead — giving back to and serving their community — is even more satisfying.
“I think we get so busy in our day to day lives, and we don't understand that not everybody has that opportunity to spend Thanksgiving together with their extended family," Chad Cox said. "And so, just able to give them a little bit of that.”