During the holiday season, people often find ways to help serve others in countless ways.
At one Pettis County organization, a small group of individuals has found a way to help others each weekday, but now they need help as well.
Every Monday through Friday, the Salvation Army, 1200 E. Broadway Ave., serves hot meals to their guests at no cost.
“We have the food,” volunteer Carla Lucchesi said. “We just need the time of others to help.”
Luchessi is one of eight men and women who devote two to three hours preparing and serving lunch to an average of 60 individuals.
The Salvation Army receives a supply of food each week from the Open Door Ministries Food Pantry as well as from other organizations and businesses Luchessi said.
“The Open Door supplies us with the majority of our food, but every week Panera Bread brings us a supply of fresh baked goods so we always have bread to serve and use in preparing the meals,” she said.
“Walmart donates bakery items from time to time and we’ve been blessed to have a supply of Venison and pork that have been donated that we have been using also,” she added. “It can be a challenge to prepare the meals because what we have on hand changes each week but we always find a way.”
The largest need that Luchessi and the others who donate their time have is simply the need for help from other volunteers.
“I saw an ad in the paper that said they need a cook, so I came down to help,” volunteer Bill Turner said. “That was a year and a half ago and here I am still helping.
“I felt no one should go without food,” Turner added. “It is the least we can do for the members of our community.”
Turner considers one of the most effective parts of the program is that people feel comfortable and welcome at the center.
“The people who come here are always very thankful and appreciative,” Turner said. “If they don’t need the help they aren’t here.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when someone doesn’t come up to the serving window and say, ‘thank you’ and bless us for the work we are doing,” Turner added. “In 32 years of my professional career, I don’t remember anyone saying that.”
Luchessi agrees with Turner.
“We don’t ask questions here; everyone can eat here,” Luchessi said. “People come early for fellowship and they truly do look out for one another.
“If they see that someone who is usually here is gone one day, they check up on them and ask if anyone knows if they are alright,” she added. “They really do care for one another.”
The center is planning a Thanksgiving meal Tuesday for their patrons.
“It’s really a guess on how much food we will need to prepare,” Luchessi said. “We may have as many as 150 people.
“We will be ready but we really can use additional volunteers and not just during the holidays,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be every day, but we can always use the help of people who are willing to help others.”
Individuals who would like to donate their time may do so by contacting the Salvation Army offices at 826-1525.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484