Salvation Army fills Thanksgiving need

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 23, 2012 

Like a well-oiled machine, the volunteer kitchen staff churned out plate after plate of Thanksgiving food Saturday at the Salvation Army outpost's community meal.

A couple of dozen volunteers plated turkey, stuffing, vegetables and mashed potatoes, and served the roughly 300 diners at United Methodist Church, while smaller crews washed dishes, delivered the food to seated diners and prepared the next round of food.

The Rev. Joe Roberts, a Salvation Army envoy, said the outpost has given out boxes for many years but only started the meal last year.

"We have so many people who come into The Salvation Army, but they don't have some place to go for Thanksgiving," he said.

The meal also feeds the elderly and shut-ins who couldn't make it to the church.

Roberts made his way around to diners, many of whom he knew by name.

"There's not very many people in town that haven't come through The Salvation Army for one thing or another," he said.

According to staff, The Salvation Army hands out more than 200 food boxes a month, receives more than 40 calls a day regarding Pacific Gas & Electric assistance, offers used clothing and last month opened a computer lab for job seekers.

Roberts said The Salvation Army is a soup of broken families that come together.

"I'm in the best ministry in the world," Roberts said. "We don't want anyone to feel left out."

Julia Casillas of Dos Palos brought her three children and her parents to eat. She said she wanted to get her elderly parents out of the house.

Casillas said she appreciates the work the Salvation Army does on the Westside.

"They do a lot for the people of Los Banos, especially the homeless," Casillas said, "people that are on hard times."

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at

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