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Todd St. Laurent of China Lake Rotary Club gives direction to Justin Ball, a Burroughs High School Interact club member, on how to pack a Thanksgiving gift box at the Salvation Army Sunday afternoon. / Laura Austin Photo

Salvation Army assists others in celebrating Thanksgiving

Salvation Army By Lt. Gina Noble Corps Officer–

Thanksgiving is a verb. This fall holiday begins with gratitude and ends with sharing.  It is not a single day. It is a season. Actually, Thanksgiving is an everyday attitude.  It’s about recognizing your abundance and the impact you can have with it.  Being filled with compassion, noticing need and seeing suffering. Finding where you can have a little less, so that someone you may never meet, can have a little more. What is happy about Thanksgiving is appreciation and distribution.

The effects of the pandemic continue through inflation, and there are many hard-working families, retired seniors who work hard their whole lives, and everyday people who have experienced situations and current circumstances that make life hard.  There is suffering going on in our communities, among our neighbors in Inyokern and friends in Trona and all the other desert dwellings surrounding Ridgecrest. We can be the hub of help this holiday and every day.  We each have something to be grateful for, and we each have something to give, whether your monetary treasure, your unique talents, or your valuable time. The way to gain is to give.

This Thanksgiving, there are 25 community faith and service organizations working together to provide 350 families with special food assistance for Thanksgiving. One thousand four hundred twenty-seven lives will be impacted, including vulnerable seniors, veterans and active military and dependent children.  The Salvation Army oversees this Ridgecrest tradition. It is not just for Thanksgiving, and it will happen again for Christmas.  This is on top of the 300 food boxes per week distributed by The Salvation Army and community support from many other organizations that meet the everyday needs of those who are food insecure.  Due to the increased need, there are also several new meal programs in our community.

The Salvation Army continues to expand services to give people food.  This includes the new People Pick Pantry for large families and the Free Farmers Market.

What can you do to Give Thanks and Love Your Neighbors in Need?

Give to the Albertsons Nourishing Neighbors program at the checkout registers in both our Ridgecrest stores. This is a corporate initiative where all donations stay local and are given to The Salvation Army in the form of food-only gift cards. This enables families and seniors to shop for what they need in addition to distributing food and meeting health and dietary needs.  This Thanksgiving, $6,200 in Nourishing Neighbors assistance will be distributed.  The program has no limit, so the more we give, the greater the impact at Christmas and into 2024.

Please give to trusted organizations monetarily through direct donations. Place what you can in the Red Kettles outside of Stater Bros, Walmart, and Santa’s Art Shop (or electronically at RidgecrestRedKettle.org) to help the largest food program in Eastern County continue to grow and meet needs.  Please donate to local food drives at schools, churches, service clubs, and businesses. It is not about cleaning cans out of your food cabinet; it’s about shopping for non-perishable convenience food items for someone else. Seniors love hearty soup & crackers, and children enjoy hot and cold cereal, macaroni and cheese, and cookies too.  It is called comfort food for a reason, and it nourishes the giver and the receiver.

As we enter into the Christmas season, there are several organizations collecting new toys for the youth. Please consider purchasing toys for children and donate to Toys for Tots and The North Pole at Ridgecrest.

The Salvation Army makes sure the teenagers receive age-appropriate gifts, like hoodies and hygiene, and you can give them at Angel Trees in Walmart and at Alta One Federal Credit Unions through December 18th. Many local churches and businesses are having toy drives to support the greater gift need this season, as well.  Please consider donating your time to ring a bell or pack and deliver food boxes with The Salvation Army by registering at volunteer.usawest.org or contacting Lts. Noble at 760 375-7219.

Need knows no season. Caring is Sharing. Giving makes every day a happy holiday. We are beyond blessed in Ridgecrest. United, to love and serve each other. Hugs and smiles are free. So do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And why, you ask? Because you are needed to make life better for someone else.  Thanks for giving the best in Ridgecrest & beyond.