A day of thanks

Holiday dinner celebrates community
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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You don’t need a reason to enjoy the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner. Homeless? Come on in. Family lives out of town? Take a seat. Just didn’t feel like cooking? There’s plenty for everyone. The entire community was invited, and hundreds took the Salvation Army up on its offer, filing into the Placer Building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds Thursday afternoon for turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and more. “What this community likes is that it has a feel of family,” said Major Joyce Lewis with Auburn’s Salvation Army. “I feel that this is the most important part — it feels like home.” Lewis said the Salvation Army purchased enough food to feed 2,000. More than 300 meals were delivered to homebound residents earlier Thursday before the community feast began. After being seated, attendees were treated to a restaurant-style meal, with volunteers bringing out dinner plates heaped high with Thanksgiving favorites. Once dinner was done, volunteers doled out desserts. “It’s more like a restaurant atmosphere, not like a soup kitchen,” said Michelle Talbott, Salvation Army social services director. “You know what’s nice about Auburn is it’s a real hometown feel. It’s a community — that’s what makes this unique, the community effort. We’ve got cookers and cleaners and the servers and the greeters. It’s just the coolest. It does a person’s heart good.” Volunteer Tone Pieper, of Colfax, worked the room Thursday afternoon, handing out slices of apple, pumpkin and chocolate pie. “My daughter decided that she would like to do this, and I decided I’d do it with her,” he said. “I think this is a great way to spend Thanksgiving.” Linda Huskinson, of Weimar, has been a part of the dinner for some 20 years, starting when her children were young — they used to help decorate the placemats. Each year area children transform sheets of paper into holiday placemats for the tables. “That’s how you teach your children to give back, to help the community,” Huskinson said of volunteering. On Thursday, Huskinson, her husband and mother all sat down and enjoyed their meals. “This is for everybody,” Huskinson said. “It’s not just for the homeless. You come out and you rub elbows with people you wouldn’t normally.” Heather Hijjawi, of Roseville, attended the dinner with her husband, children, sister, niece and other family members. “Our parents aren’t down this year so we thought we’d spend it with the community,” she said. Kenny Minero, a friend of Hijjawi’s sister’s husband, stopped by the table to say hello. Minero said he had a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. “I’m here because I got sober and decided I wanted to get off the streets,” he said. “I feel thankful that I’m alive.” Also chatting with the group was Auburnite Carolyn Hudgins. Thursday marked her first time attending the Salvation Army’s community Thanksgiving dinner. “I’m just here to try the dinner and to socialize with the homeless and the people who need love,” she said. “I think it is so awesome. The best green beans I ever ate.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at