KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When people are hungry, the Salvation Army is there to care for their immediate needs.
That non-profit’s annual Thanksgiving Day meal starts each year with plans to feed hundreds of hungry people. It’s a huge holiday effort the Salvation Army of Kansas and Western Missouri has conducted annually for the past 44 years.
On Thursday, hundreds of volunteers teamed up to prepare, assemble and deliver holiday meals to thousands of people in need.
Meals of turkey and taters wouldn’t reach people in need without volunteer drivers. Every Thanksgiving Day, Parkville’s Janice Williams and her husband, Jim, pick up dinners and drive them directly to hungry families.
“It really warms my heart. Just driving in and seeing other volunteers. It just touches me,” Janice Williams said.
“It’s the faces on people when we get to their door,” Jim Williams said. “They’re very thankful. It’s not much of an inconvenience for us, but it’s just it’s great for them.”
Kansas City’s local chapter of the Salvation Army has organized this holiday feast since 1977, serving tens of thousands of Thanksgiving meals along the way. Maj. Kelly Collins, who leads the Salvation Army of Kansas and Western Missouri, said her workers are seeing more requests for help than ever before. Some of the 900 meals Maj. Collins and her workers plan to serve are distributed from a makeshift food truck placed along Broadway Blvd.
“We try to provide as much as we can, but we can’t do that alone,” Maj. Collins said. “This is not a Salvation Army effort. It’s a community effort. These volunteers – some of these people have been here for 44 years doing this. Some of them are third generation bringing their kids and grandkids. This is their holiday tradition to serve others.”
Proof of that dedication rests within Kansas City’s Judy Bosshard, who’s been serving at this holiday gathering for the entire 44 years of its existence. The only change for Bosshard – she doesn’t come alone anymore. In recent years, she’s been joined by her kids and grandchildren.
“It’s a good place to be. It’s like a family reunion. It really is,” Bosshard smiled. “My family and I have also delivered meals, so we’ve seen the homes we go into. There’s some of them that are pretty sparse, and a lot of single people that need help, so we do this with love.”
Without those volunteers, the meals couldn’t be enjoyed to their fullest. The holiday feast would normally take place in this dining hall, but for two years running, COVID-19 has forced the Salvation Army to take the show on the road, using the canteen building for meal preparation only.