THUNDER BAY - For firefighters with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue who assist members of the community every day, seeing people in need sitting down to enjoy a hearty meal with a smile makes all the hard work both on and off the job not only worth it, but part of an important tradition.
“We work on the frontline of the street and we see people in need every day, so it’s an easy partnership for us to donate some money and buy the food and help prepare it and serve it,” said Kevin Anderson with the Thunder Bay Professional Firefighters Association.
For the past 22 years, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue has been assisting the Salvation Army with its annual Thanksgiving dinner.
On Sunday, more than 350 people came through the door at the Salvation Army on Cumberland Street for a special home cooked meal.
“We are doing a Thanksgiving dinner for people in the community who maybe don’t have enough money to have their own or who are lonely,” said Gail Kromm, community engagement manager with the Salvation Army.
“We just find that this is a time of year that most of us get to celebrate and be thankful and it’s a time we like to share with those who maybe don’t have as much and also should have that chance to have something special as well.”
The meal consisted of all the Thanksgiving favourites, including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and a several choices of pie for dessert.
“They have been working all week,” Anderson said. “The cooks have been roasting many turkeys and hundreds of pounds of potatoes. Today they were here early getting the potatoes mashed and we came for final prep and will help clean up.”
According to Anderson, participating in the annual meal has become a tradition for many members of Thunder Bay Fire Rescue.
“Guys are bringing their families and young kids,” he said. “Many of them started when they were young and they are still coming 20 plus years later, so it’s a real tradition for us.”
And knowing all the people served are walking away feeling full and happy makes this annual tradition for the Salvation Army and the firefighters all the more special.
“It’s great to see,” Anderson said. “We see them at their worst, so if we can see them happy and a stomach full and doing well, that’s nice to see.”
“They are just thoroughly enjoying it and are very grateful,” Kromm added. “Over and over again people are saying thank you as they walk out the door and telling us how delicious it is and they are so appreciative of having it.”