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Volunteers, diners share gratitude at Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 26, 2010
— Mounds of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and green beans filled their plates.

Gratitude filled their hearts.


Thursday, hundreds of local residents and a handful of travelers filled the gym at the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving dinner, conversation and enough pie, cookies and bars to satisfy the hungriest sweet tooth.


And everybody had something to be thankful for.


Kevin Bishop, Beloit, was stirring the big pot of gravy and keeping an eye on the potatoes and stuffing.


Bishop, who works at Fairbanks Morse, has volunteered for years at Salvation Army.


“I’m thankful for my family, my daughter, and for the time I have to spend with my best friend who has cancer,” Bishop said.


Susan Parrish, Janesville, was eating with her cousin, David Wickingsen, also of Janesville.


Wickingsen, who was sporting a collection of unusual and elegant pins on his shirt and vest, said he was thankful to be alive.


Parrish was grateful for family and friends.


“I’m thankful that I live in a free country, and I’m thankful for the service of this man here,” said Parrish, gesturing at Pat Peterson, who was sitting to her right.


Peterson, Janesville, recently got out of the army after eight years of service, which included tours in Iraq. He was thankful for his spouse of a year-and-a-half.


That made his wife, Cindy Peterson, smile.


“I’m glad you’re not deployed,” she responded.


The Petersons will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army today from 10 a.m. to noon at ShopKo.


Eric De La Paz, Janesville, a Salvation Army intern, was greeting people as they entered the building.


“I’m thankful for the path the Lord has led me on,” De La Paz said. “And I’m thankful to see all the wonderful things going on here today.”


De La Paz, and his wife, Michele—he’s also grateful for her—hope to attend the Salvation Army College in Chicago this fall.


Michele De La Paz said she was thankful for her three children and “all of the things in my life that lead me to Christ.”


Jamila Guy, Charlotte, N.C., was visiting her boyfriend, Brandon Bradley, who is a graduate assistant for the UW-Whitewater wrestling team. She spent Thanksgiving greeting diners with her beautiful smile.


Guy, who is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and on the track team there, said she was thankful for her family and “to be able to wake up another day.”


Tim Fader, UW-W head wrestling coach, was volunteering at the meal with his kids and members of the university’s wrestling team. It’s something they’ve done for many years. He was grateful for his family and to be a part of the Salvation Army dinner.


Aiden Denson, 7, Janesville, recently joined a youth wrestling club called “The Pythons.” But on Thursday, he was busy helping out in lots of different ways.


He was thankful for his family and his dog, Gertie.


Tim Lawarance was sharing a table with his mother, Sandra Lawarance, and Dawn Wilson.


“I’m thankful that I can get out and meet new people,” Tim said.


His mother, who turns 70 today, said she was happy to be able to “do what I can from my wheelchair.”


Wilson was grateful that “Jesus died for our sins” and the time she got to spend with her family.


Sharon Wilson, volunteer, summed up the day’s blessings in her own statement: “I’m thankful to be living in the United States, I’m thankful for this wonderful meal and my family, and I’m thankful for God’s love.”



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