Volunteers big part of Salvation Army's Thanksgiving tradition - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Volunteers big part of Salvation Army's Thanksgiving tradition

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - One of Thanksgiving's more popular service projects will get underway Wednesday morning, as hundreds of volunteers will help the Salvation Army of Tyler prepare, and then serve, Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday.

"This will be my third year to come out to the Salvation Army. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy people. And I feel like it's part of what God asked me to do, He asked me to serve," says volunteer Dale Wheeler.

The Salvation Army of Tyler is expecting at least 200 volunteers, if not more, to serve what they call one of their most important meals of the year.

"Without their help, the meal wouldn't be prepared, it wouldn't be served, then of course cleanup is a necessity," says Cindy Bell, Director of Development for the Salvation Army of Tyler.

Wheeler says she's done everything from peeling potatoes to setting up tables to get ready for the meal.

"It's incredible. It's just one great big family.Everybody -- all hands on deck, everyone is trying to serve others and make that experience enjoyable," she says.

The Salvation Army of Tyler is expecting to feed 800 people for Thanksgiving lunch. That doesn't count their normal breakfast and dinner meals, which will also be served on Thursday.

"It's so important," Bell says of the traditional Thanksgiving lunch. "We see so many that come in -- many are accustomed to our feedings, so they do it comfortably, but you can tell those that are new to not being able to feed themselves, support themselves, that come to us. We try to give them dignity and a nice warm meal."

The Salvation Army of Tyler says they have plenty of volunteers for Thanksgiving. To sign up for other volunteer shifts during the holidays, visit www.ringbells.org to learn more.

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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