As part of its continued efforts to provide families with comfort, care and hope, The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia hosted Thanksgiving celebrations across the city for hundreds of people in need.
In West Philadelphia, more than a hundred people gathered for a special program that included food, fellowship, ministry and music. Tables covered in brightly colored cloths filled the gymnasium. Local residents shared their vocal and musical talents with the crowd. And dozens of volunteers donning red aprons served each of the families in their seats.
“We’ve wanted to serve on Thanksgiving Day for years,” said Susan Nagy of Malvern.
Susan and nine members of her family were among those who made Thanksgiving a day of service. They greeted families and prepared plates of food with big smiles.
“It’s always been in my heart,” Susan said. “I’ve been involved in outreach through church. I think we always get more than we give out,” she added.
Roughly one in five Philadelphians suffer from the inability to consistently access or afford adequate food, also known as “food insecurity.” (Feeding America, 2017) The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia is committed to helping thousands of local families in crisis year-round who may not have enough food to eat. It does this through food pantries, community meals and other programs. The Salvation Army’s fight to end hunger takes on greater meaning on Thanksgiving. It is more than sustenance – the turkey and all of the fixings represent normalcy, family and community.
At the New Day Drop-In Center in Kensington, The Salvation Army partnered with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church and its She’s My Sister ministry to provide clients with a Thanksgiving dinner. The Drop-In Center provides food, clothing, toiletries, showers and supportive services to women suffering from the “force, fraud and coercive” tactics of the sex trafficking industry.
“We want to continue to let them know we see them and they are valued,” said Arielle Curry, Director of Anti-Trafficking Programs with The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia. “They’re worthy and deserve this treatment every day.”
Tables were filled with traditional Thanksgiving favorites like turkey and stuffing, and delicious soul food classics like fried chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens all courtesy of Ms. Tootsie’s on South Street.
“It’s wonderful. That food is great,” said “Erin,” a New Day client who has been coming to the Drop-In Center for about five months. “It feels like we are cared about and we’re loved.”
Erin and nearly a hundred other women spent the afternoon with Salvation Army staff and volunteers, enjoying some respite from life on the street on this Thanksgiving holiday.
“My drug addiction has taken a lot from me. I lost my kids, my family. This has become by home,” Erin explained, as she hugged her case manager, Sue Santucci. “I love Thanksgiving and I’m grateful that I’m here with my family. “
*Name changed for the purpose of the story to protect her privacy.