Janesville63.4°

Volunteers are key to holiday meal

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 27, 2009
— Jim brought Michelle.

Michelle brought Kent.


Susie brought Tom and Nicole.


And the UW-Whitewater wrestling coach brought his team.


That’s the way it works at the Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner: One volunteer brings a friend of a family member and they become, more or less, a permanent part of the team.


On Thursday, that team of volunteers served meals for about 200 people. Plates were piled high with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, fruit and marshmallow salad, rolls, relishes and one of about a dozen desserts.


It takes a lot of work—and about 17 turkeys—to make the meal come together. But over the years a core group of volunteers has slowly expanded, with friends bringing friends who bring family members.


Then there are connections within those connections.


Take Jim Heffron. He started cooking Thanksgiving dinner about 10 years ago.


“Jim invited me,” said Michelle Harrison, who’s been a volunteer for about six years. She, in-turn, invited Kent Harrison.


And even though the Harrisons each live in the suburbs of Chicago, they make the trek to Janesville every year to help out.


This is the third year for the Kass family.


“It was my mom’s idea,” said Nicole Kass. “I have to give her credit for it.”


While Nicole and her mother, Susie, worked in the dining room, Nicole’s father, Tom, worked in the kitchen.


Tom clearly knew the drill, moving from counter to sink, answering questions when he could.


Heffron, Tom Kass and Kent Harrison also made up an unintentional trifecta of Blain’s Farm & Fleet employees. Heffron works in creative services, Kass is a warehouse manager and Harrison a regional manager.


It’s all for a good cause, of course.


“There’s been a spike in grocery orders since August,” said Heffron, who also serves on the Salvation Army’s board of directors.


Fortunately, Thursday’s dinners were completely covered by public food donations.



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