Salvation Army serves 550 Thanksgiving meals

Thursday, November 27, 2008 | 7:00 p.m. CST
Willy Maxwell waits for his second plate to be assembled by David Shirley, Dawn Brandon and Lisa Berry at the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner held at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Paris Road. Shirley said he was happy to come out and spend time at the event. "The experience from this side of the counter is very gratifying," Shirley said.

COLUMBIA — At 4 a.m. Thursday, John Fischer was already at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Paris Road preparing mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinner.

Fischer, owner of the restaurant, wanted to make certain at least 500 meals were ready when the doors opened at 11 a.m.

By 2 p.m., when dinner ended, the restaurant had served about 550 meals, Fischer said, including meals delivered to individual homes. That is about 50 more than last year.

A few people were waiting in cars when the restaurant opened, said Salvation Army Major John Flanagan, but there was never a line. Instead, a steady stream over the three-hour mealtime made the event manageable.

"It worked out well," he said.

Flanagan manned the door during the event and greeted people as they arrived. Occasionally, someone would walk in and hand him a pie.

Earlier in the week, the Salvation Army still was lacking desserts for the Thanksgiving dinner. But an outpouring of community support Thursday provided plenty.

There were so many home-baked goods, Flanagan joked, that everyone could have two pieces of pie.

"It's amazing," he said. "Some are still coming in warm, fresh from the oven."

Marty Janains, Jeff Peterson and Willy Maxwell enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner provided by the Salvation Army at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Paris Road. The event relied on donations and help from a variety of volunteers, many of whom have participated for several years.

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Ray Shapiro November 27, 2008 | 11:03 p.m.

My personal thanks to John Fischer for freeing up his restaurant and preparing such a great holiday meal. It was wonderful to be greeted by Major John Flanagan as I came in. It was wonderful to be served by such a great team of volunteers. The price was right and the food was awesome. You all deserve 449 more thank yous. Truly a very special Thanksgiving. God bless everyone.

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Ray Shapiro November 27, 2008 | 11:11 p.m.

Of course I meant 549 more thank yous. I'm a better eater than a mathematician. (Must've been too much tryptophan in my system.)

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