“It brings joy to our hearts,” Salvation Army feeds hundreds at annual Thanksgiving meal

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It take the right ingredients to make the right meal but what makes an annual dinner at the Salvation Army special is the people behind it.

About 60 volunteers spent Thursday morning packing bagged lunches and cooking for up to 500 people. The annual Thanksgiving meal has been served at the Center of Hope in Oklahoma City for the past four years.

Some of the volunteers were children.

"I think it’s important to help our kids, our families to understand all of us will go through times in our life where we will need to rely on our community, our neighbors to help out," said area commander Major Susan Ellis. "It teaches them compassion and empathy for their fellow Oklahomans."

Keri Griffin, a food service manager for the Salvation Army, arrived around 5:30 a.m. Thursday to cook.

"It brings joy to our hearts, because we are a family without their family so we bring them a family atmosphere, a family setting, and we also serve them the basics of a Thanksgiving meal," Griffin told News 4. "Good music, good company, good friends, good fellowship, good prayer, love, Everything goes into making the food."

On the menu Thursday included a total of 1,000 pounds of turkey, 80 gallons of dressing, 20 gallons of mashed potatoes, 10 gallons of gravy, and six to eight cases of assorted pies.

"The flavor comes with the butter and the margarine. It blends it in while it sits, it rises. It turns out to be a fluffy, buttery, melty taste," said volunteer Tonya Camel, who was cooking mashed potatoes. "My cooking profession comes from what’s inside. I love everybody who I serve so therefore, I’m going to put all my might into my food."

Scott Jordan was another kitchen volunteer Thursday. Jordan and his family stayed at the shelter in the past before the Salvation Army gave them job opportunities.

Though it was an early start to Thanksgiving morning, he said it was all worth it.

"I just know what we went through in my family and what little we can do to give back and show our appreciation for all the Salvation Army has done for me and my family, it’s just a total blessing," he said.

Bob Thompson used to work as a monitor at the shelter and returned as a guest on Thursday. Thompson said it was like returning to a second family.

"I’m single. I’ve never been married. I have some family in Medill, Oklahoma and they were going to Texas," he said.

For more information on volunteer opportunities with the Salvation Army, click here.