Jennifer Griswold – KMTV
By: Ruta Ulcinaite

Each Thanksgiving, The Salvation Army sponsors TurkeyFest at The Salvation Army Kroc Center. More than 800 volunteers prepare and deliver turkey dinners to approximately 1,561 homebound elderly and the near-homeless in the metropolitan area.

Turkeyfest started more than 25 years ago when each member of the Heartland Pioneers, a volunteer group in Omaha, would cook a turkey and fixings and deliver them to senior citizens in need around Omaha.

The Pioneers formed a partership with the Salvation Army and Turkeyfest has grown over the years, from serving 300 meals 25 years ago, to a record 1,562 meals this year. The Heartland Pioneers in the begfinning furnished the food and the Salvation Army furnished a place to fix the meal. As the pioneers funds run out they turn the operation over the the Salvation Army. The pioneers still volunteer on Wednesday evening and on Turkey Day.

Director of Senior Services at the Salvation Army, D.D. Launderville, said that partnership has proved beneficial to the entire community. She said it starts with the helpers that prepare the food at the Kroc Center in South Omaha.

“That group that puts together the food on Wednesday night from the pioneers, they are so dedicated,” Launderville said. “The same group, the same people show up every year and they love doing it. There is such ownership in what they do. They put together this delicious meal, they can see it being put together and then they come the next day and then they serve it.

Submitted by Deb Grady