Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo
Wednesday, November 17, 2017

SAN ANGELO – At the Salvation Army's 116th consecutive annual, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, among the 50 plus foot soldier volunteers who served 300 community members, were a nine-year-old boy, a 17-year-old, high school student from Finland, and several other first timers. 

Salvation Army Major, Tim Crider, addressed The San Angelo Salvation Army’s staff/ volunteer prior to the doors being opened to a large contingent of San Angeloans.

“One of the many reasons we have moved Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the night before is so that you can be here,” he said. “These meals mean nothing to the folks on the streets who come here to our shelter, unless you are here to encourage and uplift them,” said Crider. Crider and his wife, Cheryl, are in their third year of leading their staff in serving their community a traditional, Thanksgiving dinner. 

Major, Crider thanked the volunteers for coming and giving of their time to become servants to their community.

One of the SA volunteers at Wednesday’s Thanksgiving dinner was 17-year-old Viivi Erkkila from Finland. Viivi,,who attends Central High School, came to San Angelo as an exchange student.

Erkkila accompanied her host mother, Daina Schwartz. “We’re doing this as a way of thanks and giving back to the community,” she said. Erkkila was asked what was she grateful for this Thanksgiving.

“For my family and all the blessings.”

A traditional Thanksgiving meal consisting of: smoked Turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce; green beans; pecan pie and or pumpkin pie, was served on Wednesday, November 22 at the Salvation Army's 116th consecutive year of celebrating the holiday dinner with 300 community members.

 In charge of all the food preparation for the Salvation Army was Jared Stephenson, Food Service Manager. Assisting was Emergency Shelter, Manager, Melodie Lane.

300 community members showed up for Wednesday's Thanksgiving, holiday dinner put on by the Salvation Army.

Nine-year-old, Anthony Garcia was one of the youngest foot soldier volunteers to serve Thanksgiving to his fellow community members. Garcia attends Lamar Elementary School. 

First time to participate in the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinner were Wells Fargo employees: Melissa Lopez and Sacha Hunt.

SA volunteers, left-to-right: Alex Nevarez, wife, Nora, Daina Schwartz and volunteer.

Since this was Scwartz first time to participate as a Salvation Army volunteer, she was asked why.

“I serve on the Concho Valley Homeless Planning Coalition Board and when Tim took me on a tour of the facilities, I saw a need and asked to be used.” “And I also volunteered my exchange student (Viivi).” 

Salvation Army's mascot, Captain Kettle, with Lauren Cervantes (left) and Venise Faz (right). Lauren, who is 11-years-old, attends Lee Middle School and is Venise' daughter. 
Venise has another daughter, Ava who was unable to attend. Not pictured was Venise' grandmother-Rosario Zavala.

Among the 300 families who were served a Thanksgiving dinner was first timers--Venise Faz, her daughter, Lauren and grandmother, Rosario Zavala.

“I’m grateful to have my girls with me on Thanksgiving.” “And I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and have a safe holiday.” Faz concluded her remarks, saying she was grateful to the Salvation Army for the Thanksgiving dinner. 

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