By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Salvation Army feeds Thanksgiving need

“When we put together food for a larger group, we shoot for 400 people,” said Fries, an officer with the Salvation Army in McMinnville. “Last year, I don’t know what happened. We got close to 300 people.”

She’s hoping for a larger turnout this year. There is certainly enough need, she said.

The Salvation Army may well be the only one that local impoverished people can go for a hot Thanksgiving meal.

“That’s what I’ve heard anyway, that we’re the only place,” she said. “We’re in partnership with the Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission and St. James Catholic Church.”

Meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day — Thursday, Nov. 26 — at St. James, 145 S.E. First St. “It’s a bigger facility than we have here at the Salvation Army,” Fries explained.

While the meal is free, donations will be accepted.

“We’re not going to say no to donations,” Fries said. “I’ll be there and have a kettle out.”

It’s not just to raise money for the Salvation Army, she said.

Some people feel uncomfortable accepting something for free. Allowing them the opportunity to make a donation provides them a measure of dignity, she said.

Outside McMinnville, a free Thanksgiving meal will be served at Sheridan High School will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 433 S. Bridge St.

Meals will not be available Thanksgiving Day at traditional local mealsites in McMinnville.

However, a Thanksgiving-style dinner will be provided to guests from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at the Soup Kitchen at St. Barnabas, 822 S.W. Second St. It is being made possible through local supporters and the Lynne Ruffin-Smith Foundation, based in Las Vegas.

Other religious and charitable organizations in McMinnville have been pitching in to help people over Thanksgiving in other ways as well. For example, members of McMinnville’s Nazarene Church on the Hill arranged to provide 180 families with Thanksgiving food boxes through their nonprofit Hope on the Hill organization.

The application deadline was Nov. 16. The boxes, containing enough food for complete Thanksgiving meals, are slated for pickup or delivery Nov. 21.

“We do this annually,” said Heidi Lindell, the executive director of Hope on the Hill. “We don’t have any criteria. People ask for a meal, and we provide it for them. We give them enough food to feed their family.”

Fries said there is no criteria for the Salvation Army dinner, either. She said some people attend just so they don’t have to prepare food themselves.

“Some elderly people come,” she said. “They enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner where they don’t have to cook or clean up.

“They won’t take any leftovers, however, which is something I don’t really understand. To me, that’s the best part.”