It has been our tradition at JB Goodwin Realtors for the last 22 years to volunteer serving Thanksgiving lunch at the Salvation Army, and this year for the first time I was honored to take part in it as a server.
The Salvation Army’s Downtown Austin shelter feeds and houses hundreds of folks in need every day. In addition to that, at Thanksgiving they offer a sit-down holiday meal to their residents and to the homeless community at large, serving up some excellent home cooking from Chef Lynda Jones and her awesome kitchen staff.
Seating was family-style at large round tables, which were dressed for the occasion with fall centerpieces and colorful placemats made by some of the shelter’s young residents. Instead of standing in line for a plate, guests were waited on by a crew of volunteers, giving them a chance to take a load off and visit a little while enjoying some turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes (grown in a local community garden, these potatoes were the biggest I’ve ever seen — quite literally the size of a baby’s head!), roles and butter, cranberry sauce, and a wide variety of pies and cakes for dessert, plus all the sweet tea or punch a body could handle.
I think we served in excess of 600 meals and everyone was grateful for the feast. I heard numerous compliments to the chef, and I have to say it all looked and smelled delicious! I don’t think anybody went away hungry.
I truly enjoyed getting to serve and meet folks. There were a few souls who didn’t seem up for a lot of conversation, which I can absolutely understand and respect, but most folks seemed to welcome a little chitchat along with their grub. I was talking with one gal in particular who was sharing her concerns about her grown son, who has gotten into some trouble with the law but now seems to be on a good path. Listening to her speak I had a few of those “there but for the grace of God” moments; I realized anew how blessed I am and how much I have to be thankful for in this life, but also how easily things can turn in the wrong direction.
This holiday season (or any time of year), if you’re looking for a place where your charitable donations will have the greatest impact, I’d like to make a plea for the Salvation Army. You can donate your time, money or all kinds of stuff from their list of items they are in need of and know that approximately 83% of the money they take in goes directly to benefit the individuals and families they serve in Travis and Williamson counties, plus 100% of every dollar donated for disaster relief goes to help survivors and first responders.
Wishing y’all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!