Thanksgiving volunteers in Tulsa determined to 'give back'
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 7:18 AM
Last year Lesa Young and her family started a new tradition of volunteering to help serve a Thanksgiving meal to more than 800 people at the Salvation Army's Center of Hope.
"We didn't know what we were getting into," Young said, but they loved it. So she and her husband and two grown sons were back this year. "It's good to give back."
That's exactly why Rick White has been volunteering at Corner Cafe's free Thanksgiving meal for more than 15 years. He's usually a customer, but on Thanksgiving he gets behind the counter and serves coffee to those coming through the door.
"I have a lot to be thankful for, we all do, whether we realize it or not. It's satisfying to me," White said, and something he wants to do on the holiday. "It's good for me. Everyone, regardless of who they are or what their age, it's good for them to give back."
It's a sentiment that seems to have spread.
At the Salvation Army, volunteers have to get their name on the list by August because so many people want to help on Thanksgiving.
Corner Cafe had its share of people wanting to help too.
"This is the first year I've come out and there's been too many volunteers. Usually we're short," White said. "It's nice of them to come out."
Peggy Howe and husband Mike have been spending their Thanksgiving mornings at the Salvation Army for 15 years.
"We realized everyone wanted to serve the food so we come in early to decorate," Peggy Howe said.
Howe and her husband decorate the tables in the Center of Hope's dining room with tablecloths and fall-themed centerpieces of cornucopias, scarecrows and pumpkins, all surrounded by autumnal flowers.
"We like it to look nice so it looks more like a restaurant or a home than a shelter," she said. "It's a little touch. It's something special, especially for the kids who are coming here to eat. It makes it nice and enjoyable."
Maj. James Taylor, the Salvation Army's Tulsa Metro Area commander, said the Thanksgiving meal wouldn't be possible without the volunteers.
"We only have a certain number of paid staff. In order to feed upwards of 800 to 1,000 people in a three-hour sitting we need volunteers," Taylor said. "Some of them are groups, some are families. It's part of their Thanksgiving experience. It becomes a part of that family's experience."
It's something Young plans to make an annual tradition.
After volunteering in the afternoon, she and her family had their Thanksgiving dinner that evening.
Serving so many people who might not have had a meal otherwise makes their Thanksgiving more meaningful, Young said.
"We had done something, not just sit at home and watch football," she said. "It made us appreciate what we had. Our family has been very blessed."
For White, who's originally from Chicago, being at the Corner Cafe is his Thanksgiving celebration.
"It's a matter of no longer having family," he said. "That's what I miss, the family time together."
Original Print Headline: Thanksgiving volunteers set on giving back
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Volunteers and sisters Briana Loyd (left) and Alyssa Dossett, both from Tulsa, adjust their novelty hats before serving Thanksgiving meals during the annual Salvation Army free Thanksgiving lunch in Tulsa on Thursday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Volunteers Lesa Young (left) from Turpin and her son Kyle Young (right) from Tulsa take care of visitors to the annual Salvation Army free Thanksgiving lunch in Tulsa on Thursday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World