EAST ORANGE, NJ — The Salvation Army of East Orange hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for those who wanted to break bread and share a meal at the organization’s headquarters on Main Street on Sunday, Nov. 22, in collaboration with the East Orange Fire Department and the members of Firemen Mutual Benevolent Association Local 23.
“We serve the Oranges and Maplewood and, today, we had our second annual Thanksgiving dinner that we provide to the East Orange community, but it’s actually open to anyone that lives in the Oranges and Maplewood,” said Scott R. See, the Salvation Army envoy in charge on Sunday, Nov. 22.
“Our advisory board comes and they help organize the event; this year we have a lot of different groups helping volunteer, including the East Orange Fire Department.
“They cooked over 20 turkeys. … We started here at 2 p.m. today, serving people, and we’ll be open until about 5 p.m.”
See said feeding the hungry has been a part of the Salvation Army’s mission since it began “way back in 1875.”
He said the organization’s founder, William Booth, said, “Think of others,” and that’s what he; Goldie Burbage, the Salvation Army of East Orange’s Advisory Board chairperson; the firefighters and other Salvation Army members did Nov. 22.
“We’re providing a meal to the community. People that wouldn’t normally have the ability to have a Thanksgiving dinner can come here today and enjoy it with their family,” See said.
“Let me tell you, the turkeys are amazing! There’s turkey, ham, mac and cheese, collard greens, green beans — anything you could think of that you would want. The fighters can really cook!”
Lashawn Harper is a Salvation Army volunteer who attended the Thanksgiving dinner with her young sons, Micah and Elijah.
She said, based on the turkeys the firefighters prepared and helped serve up, See was right about their culinary skills.
“The food is amazing; we were just bragging about it,” Harper said.
“It’s delicious! The turkey’s so tender and juicy and seasoned perfectly.
“If anything, that makes me feel better about the Fire Department and firefighters, because at least they can cook. They have to live together in that firehouse all the time.”
Harper said she thought the Salvation Army of East Orange’s second annual Thanksgiving dinner was “a beautiful event and a wonderful idea that should be done more often.”
She said, “It doesn’t necessarily have to be holidays, you know.”
“There are always people who are in need, always, and there are always people that are willing to help and that’s a great thing,” Harper said.
“There’s nothing wrong with help or assistance, a hand up. I don’t care what you call it. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do is help somebody.”
Harper said that’s why she volunteers with the Salvation Army.
And East Orange Fire Department FMBLA Local 23 President Garrett Wynn said this is the reason why he and his fellow firefighters decided to partner with the charitable and religious organization that is just down the street from their firehouse on Main Street.
“Were making sure those less fortunate get what they need for the holidays so the Fire Department is out here making sure we give back and keep everybody’s spirits up,” Wynn said on Saturday, Nov. 22.
“There are a lot of good cooks in the Fire Department. Everything can’t be just work, work, work.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to make sure other people are taken care of, other than when there’s an emergency or a dangerous situation.”
Wynn said giving back to the community is just as much a part of being an East Orange firefighter as fighting fires. And he said events such as the second annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner are a great opportunity to prove that.
“We come out and make sure the community that serves us is taken care of,” Wynn said. “These people pay our salaries, for the most part. So we need to give back and make sure they’re good because they make sure that we’re good.”
Burbage said Wynn, East Orange Fire Department FMBLA Local 23 State Delegate Corey Baskerville and their fellow firefighters helped bring new meaning to the word “good” Nov. 22.
She agreed with See and Harper that the meal they prepared and donated to the 2nd annual Thanksgiving dinner was exceptional in every way.
“We are delighted to be able to service the community,” Burbage said Sunday, Nov. 22.
“We have volunteers from the young ones up to and including adults, including a number of people from the Fire Department, especially fire Chief Charles Salley, who came and with his crew, they roasted the turkeys.
“They came back, they served today and they’ve just been wonderful to us and for us and we’re very appreciative of their services.
“The men are great chefs, especially the chief.
“Last year, his lovely wife came as a surprise and helped him with serving the dinner for East Orange residents.
“So we’re very, very appreciative of Chief Salley and the manner in which he’s garnered his men and women together to serve us. We really appreciate it.”