Salvation Army reports Thanksgiving miracle

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Ridgecrest’s holiday season has kicked off with a Thanksgiving miracle. According to the Salvation Army’s Envoy Donna Griffin, Saturday, Nov, 17, saw a veritable wave of trucks and buses driving up to deliver not only needed food for holiday food baskets but also the biggest group of volunteers ever to help assemble the baskets.

The Castle X group at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, held a food drive in front of Starbucks that day and brought in no less than five busloads of food for the Salvation Army’s Thanks-giving food baskets as well as the organization’s ongoing food pantry.

Immanuel Baptist Church members held a food drive that resulted in so much donated food that they had vehicles coming in all day long to deliver.

Federal Express also hosted a local food drive and brought in still more food.

Salvation Army staff members were faced with a veritable mountain of foodstuffs for those in need. Now, how to get it all packed and ready to distribute?

They were expecting some military personnel from NAWS to help. “We thought we’d get maybe 15 or 20,” said Griffin. Chaplain Horn of the All Faith Chapel organized the volunteer effort this year, as well as last year.

Imagine the surprise when more than 75 showed up, accompanied by their families!

“They did all the work of putting together 300 food baskets in an hour and 15 minutes,” said Office Manager Rhonda Makowski. “We’re able to assist everyone who applied for a Thanksgiving basket.”

Griffin remembered seeing how much fun the families were having, working side by side.

“They were laughing and having a great time,” she said. “One father was lifting a full basket high onto a stack, and his son, about three years old, ran over and held onto his legs like he was supporting him. It was so sweet.

“This is our first miracle of the season.”

So Thanksgiving for local folks in need is pretty much handled. Starting Nov. 23 the Salvation Army’s focus will be on the Christmas holiday basket drive, the Red Kettle drive and holiday toy drives.

“We still need turkeys, hams and food for the Christmas baskets and food for the ongoing pantry,” said Makowski.

Bell-ringing volunteers are still needed — if you can donate a few hours of your time for this cause, please contact the Salvation Army at 760-375-7219 and ask for an application.

Story First Published: 2012-11-21