Thanksgiving dinner at Golden Hall

Salvation Army serves more than 1,000 people
Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-24 21:27:22-05

This year, Golden Hall hosted the biggest Thanksgiving dinner in San Diego. The downtown building - packed with more than 1,000 people in desperate need of a hot meal.

But the Salavation Army can't do it alone, volunteers are crucial to make the wonderful day happen.

Thursday afternoon, 10News reporter Jeff Lasky and photojournalist Adam Hillberry met Jim O'Leary - an 11-year volunteer.

While hundreds of families waited in line to eat, O'Leary - one of the brewmasters there - was getting ready for them.

After 11 years of volunteering during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, he's got his role down.

"We provide them with milk, either water, lemonade," he said.  "We have hot water for tea, and, of course, the last two dispensers are coffee."

As the band begins to play, Jim watched people fill the room and knew it was going to be a busy day.

"It looks like you mentioned out here, we're going to have a full 1600 full house today," O'Leary said. "And that's great. And if we need to serve more, I'm sure we'll do a second round."

For the last 33 years, the Salvation Army has served a full Thanksgiving dinner. That meal goes from turkey to pie, to anyone who needs it, young or old.

The volunteers each find a way to contribute. Some manning the massive food stations, others going table to table.

This year 10news reporter Emily Thode was there, serving coffee.

Jim says serving is the key word.

"I feel I've been very blessed in all my life," he said. "And I've lost some good friends during my lifetime that made me realize that I need to help other people, instead of just thinking of myself all the time."

O'Leary hopes a special day like Thanksgiving will help inspire people to help beyond just the one day.

"If we can do more and get more people to help and serve in other ways beside just here on thanksgiving and christmas, it would be a great help for the salvation army."

At the Thursday dinner, the Salvation Army served 355 pounds of turkey, 360 pounds of mashed potatoes, 570 pounds of green beans and 1,800 dinner rolls.