Off-duty firefighters were hard at work on Friday.
But instead of hoses and ladders to deal with, they were working their way through 150 pounds of potatoes, peeling them in preparation for the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday.
It’s an annual tradition, said Kevin Anderson, one of nearly a dozen firefighters pitching in their time for a good cause.
“We’ve been involved for as long as I can remember with the Salvation Army dinner,” Anderson said. “It’s very important to support people in our community who wouldn’t ordinarily have a Thanksgiving dinner, and even those who may be lonely in the community can come and have a meal with other people.”
It’s a special day, he added.
A lot of the firefighters often bring their families along to the meal to help serve the hungry crowd, which this year is expected to top 300.
“You really see a great appreciation too from people who are coming, so they’re really grateful for us doing it. We’re very happy to do it.”
This marks Maj. Rob Kerr’s first Thanksgiving in Thunder Bay.
The executive director of Salvation Army community and residential services said everyone deserves a great meal.
He couldn’t thank his corps of volunteers enough.
“Firefighters are providing all the work and labour to help make it happen and they’re providing the food so we can serve those in our community who may need it and may not be able to have Thanksgiving dinner otherwise,” said Kerr, who arrived in the city earlier this year from Scarborough, Ont.
The need, unfortunately, appears to be growing, he said.
“We see a need here in our facility where we’re full in our shelter. We see that there are people that are hungry. There are people who are using our food bank. So this is just one more way in which we can help those in our community who need our help,” Kerr said.
It’s especially important at holiday times, he added.
That’s why they go all out with their turkey dinner, complete with stuffing, vegetables and pumpkin pie.
“We can go home and we can have our turkey dinner and we can take it for granted and sit there and think about all the good stuff we have,” he said. “And we could feed them sandwiches and maybe feed more people that way.
“But there’s something special about saying to the people in our community who may not have turkey or otherwise, ‘You know what, this is special and we want you to be able to celebrate the way everybody else does.’”
The dinner will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Salvation Army shelter at 545 Cumberland St. North.
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