MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Shontell Garth had a big task ahead of her Thanksgiving morning—helping prepare meals ready for the dozens of people who would come for dinner at the Marshalltown Salvation Army.
Her daughter only momentarily hesitated when Shontell brought up the idea of spending the holiday volunteering.
"When she texted us in our family group chats, 'We're volunteering at 9 a.m. at The Salvation Army,' I was like '9 a.m.?,' But it was easy to get up this morning," Doshonna Garth said.
Perhaps it was easy because of what the event means for people like Marshalltown-native Gerald Shively.
"It's really nice in case your family's not here," Shively said.
It's been a couple of years since the community has been able to gather at the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving dinner. The tradition was put on hold last year because of the pandemic.
"That was the first year in many, many years that we did not have a hot meal on Thanksgiving day here," said Captain Pam Kasten, who heads the local chapter.
Even though the organization was able to offer to-go meals last year, Kasten said the event was missed because it's about more than just the meal.
"It provides so many different things other than just food to families. And so it is a great opportunity for people that are otherwise alone to be with other people," she said.
Kenneth Bittner, another Marshalltown resident, stopped by to pick up meals for him and his wife.
"I'm glad that Salvation Army's here because this town is really counts on it—a lot of people do. It's a really good thing," Bittner said.
The Garth family go to see that first hand on Thursday.
"Just kind of doing the Lord's work giving back to people," Shontell said.
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