Thomas Cowan and Cindy Schweitzer’s plates were full of traditional good eats Thanksgiving afternoon as they chatted with numerous volunteers.
A pile of turkey sat next to a mountain of mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and stuffing.
“It is a good meal, and it is probably the only way I would have a Thanksgiving meal,” Cowan said.
If it wasn’t for the Salvation Army Thanksgiving at the Rivers of Living Waters Church in downtown Killeen, Cowan said, he would probably be trying to find an odd job Thursday to make money and not partaking in the holiday.
Several area churches and community organizations, including the Salvation Army and Bibleway Church of God in Christ, offered meals to the community Thursday to try and ensure everyone had a reason to be thankful.
“Today of all days, is about giving people something to be thankful for,” said Lt. Chris Bryant with the Salvation Army. “It is not only about them getting fed physically, they get fed spiritually.”
The Salvation Army’s meal also is about providing fellowship for people and making them feel important and a part of the community.
Cecil Bowles, outreach pastor of Faith Temple, which helps the Salvation Army every year, said he told volunteers to make sure to sit down with people when delivering meals to the more than 300 area homebound residents.
“It is awesome to watch the fellowship,” said Bryant of people sharing the meal at its site. “You can see them smile. ... To me, that is what makes this all worth it.”
At Bibleway, Pastor Robert Ellis and members of the church provided for a smaller group of residents.
“This is our first,” said Ellis of the meal. “Normally, we give out food baskets, but we decided to do something different.”
Around 10 people had stopped by to eat in the first hour and a half of the event, which ran until 3 p.m. Church members prepared and served the meal.
Tables were set up in the church along with two televisions, one programmed to football, the other hooked up to video games, and a stack of board games awaited people willing to play.
James Stevens, whose brother is a member of Bibleway, said he probably would have spent the holiday alone had he not heard of the meal.
“I live by myself and don’t know how to cook,” he said. “It’s a family event. The church is like extended family. With the games, it’s like when I was growing up. It brings back good memories.”
The Salvation Army was able to feed more than 500 residents throughout the day because of an outpouring of community support. The church only spent about $400 after receiving a slew of donations to provide the food for the meal.
Church members of Faith Temple, Rivers of Living Waters and other congregations, Ellison High School students and other volunteers assisted the Salvation Army in distributing and cooking the Thanksgiving meals.
People, like Cowan, were thankful for all the volunteers who worked Thursday.
“I am very thankful that Salvation Army puts together this meal,” he said. “They help a lot of people around here.”
Residents who would have not spent their holiday in a traditional manner also appreciated the opportunity to socialize.
“No one really wants to be alone for Thanksgiving,” Stevens said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474