Thanksgiving meal came free for about a hundred community members who trooped to the CNMI Salvation Army's Guma Yo' ase' Soup Kitchen in Chalan Piao yesterday noon.
Clients were treated to an array of traditional Thanksgiving fare such as ham and turkey that were prepared and served by close to 30 volunteers, majority of whom were from the Salvation Army church. Food was served from noon to about 3pm.
Ministry leader Wayne Gillespie said yesterday that preparation for the event began as early as Wednesday, with the soup kitchen buzzing with volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort to be able to feed those who wouldn't have a meal during this major holiday.
The male volunteers were in charge of setting up the outdoor tents to provide shade to the diners, while the female volunteers, including the Salvation Army's Donut Girls, were tasked to do the bulk of the work ,which was preparing the dishes.
Through the volunteers' efforts, Gillespie said they were able to feed many clients, including a few homeless people . One volunteer offered to bring plates of food to a homeless family who spent their holiday on a beach.
“We are tremendously grateful to our selfless volunteers,” he told Saipan Tribune. “They put in a lot of hard work that made this Thanksgiving meal happen. Without them, we also wouldn't be able to operate our soup kitchen.”
Salvation Army's many sponsors and donors were also acknowledged. Gillespie disclosed that Thelma Inos and one anonymous sponsor donated ham, while Evan and Kristine Yamagishi donated both ham and turkey.
The generosity of businesses such as Bank of Hawaii and Dickerson & Quinn also allowed them to do this annual service. Gillespie thanked as well the Saipan Community School and the San Antonio Elementary School for organizing a food drive to benefit their faith-based group.
“We wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving and we extend our gratitude to all our volunteers and sponsors,” said Gillespie.
He noted, however, that they still help to pay for rent and utility expenses at the soup kitchen, which serves between 150 and 200 individuals per week.
“We're hoping to find businesses and churches that might be able to help us financially and partner with us to help us operate the soup kitchen,” he said.
Gillespie said they also need donations of clean and serviceable items for their thrift store next to the soup kitchen, which helps raise funds for their operations.
“Come find your treasure at our thrift store. You might be surprised at the kind of items you find here because we try to keep it fun and interesting,” he added.
To donate or for more information, visit the CNMI Salvation Army Facebook page or call 483-0885.