COLUMBIA — The Salvation Army is setting more places at the table for Thanksgiving dinner this year.
"We don't want anyone to go without," said Major K. Kendall Mathews, regional coordinator of the Salvation Army for Columbia and Jefferson City.
WHAT: Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, 2316 Paris Road.
He said the organization is preparing more than 500 meals for Thursday's dinner, prompted by an increase in demand for electric and rental assistance.
Mathews also said the Salvation Army shelter is full, more children are participating in its community center and more people are shopping at the organization's thrift stores.
"My feeling is that there is more of a demand," said Voluntary Action Center executive director Cindy Mustard. The center refers families to the Thanksgiving dinner, to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, 2316 Paris Road.
Mustard said official numbers comparing referrals this year and last year will be tabulated at the end of the month. However, her "gut" tells her there has been an increase.
Mathews praised the community's outpouring of support, helping to ensure that everyone is fed.
"Even though it's an uncertain economic time, the value of giving back is still a high priority," he said.
For example, three area radio stations, Q106.1, 100.1 the Buzz and 102.3 BXR, teamed up to promote a three-hour turkey drive at various Gerbes locations in the city. After three hours, the stations had collected 204 turkeys.
"Times are pretty tough right now," Q106.1 DJ Damon Knight wrote in an e-mail. "We understand that the work done by the Salvation Army is more important than ever. We were excited about the opportunity to help out."
"It was very successful," Mathews said about the turkey drive and the Salvation Army's partnership with the radio stations.
"It's this kind of progressive thinking that is needed," he said. "It's better to do it together than individually."
He said the Salvation Army hopes to network with more businesses and organizations throughout the year.
Although the Salvation Army is set on turkeys for the dinner, the organization still needs desserts.
"We need pumpkin pies, pecan pies and cookies," Mathews said.
Donations can be dropped off until 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Salvation Army Shelter, 1108 Ash St., or its thrift shops. On Thursday, bring donations by 10 a.m. to Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken.
As for Thanksgiving dinner, Mathews suggested bringing only one thing: