Volunteer Linnell Bush helps Jeremy Schlosser load up the trunk of a vehicle with meals in downtown Juneau on Thursday, Nov. 26. Schlosser then distributed those meals to Fireweed Place, the St. Vincent de Paul Society shelter and Trillium Landing. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Volunteer Linnell Bush helps Jeremy Schlosser load up the trunk of a vehicle with meals in downtown Juneau on Thursday, Nov. 26. Schlosser then distributed those meals to Fireweed Place, the St. Vincent de Paul Society shelter and Trillium Landing. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

‘It’s a good cause’: Hundreds of meals distributed on Thanksgiving

It stopped raining just in time.

A smile was audible in Barb Monoian’s voice even if a mask kept one from being visible on her face.

“This is amazing,” Monoian said. “This is spectacular.”

Monoian was among the hundreds who received Thanksgiving meals thanks to the combined efforts of the Salvation Army, the Glory Hall and the United Way of Southeast Alaska are working with the Hangar on the Wharf, T.K. Maguire’s and Bocca al Lupo, and she was particularly pleased by a hand-decorated card that came with a meal.

“You are amazing,” the card stated.

Barb Monoian holds up a card received during Thanksgiving meal distributions in downtown Juneau on Nov. 26, 2020. “This is spectacular,” Monoian said. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Barb Monoian holds up a card received during Thanksgiving meal distributions in downtown Juneau on Nov. 26, 2020. “This is spectacular,” Monoian said. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Volunteers and residents in need alike gathered at the Downtown Transit Center Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for an annual meal distribution that’s been taking place for over 20 years, according to longtime volunteers.

[Nonprofits ready holiday meals]

The outside location was new to this year’s event in an effort to mitigate risk of spreading COVID-19, said Salvation Army officer Gina Halverson. In past years, the holiday meal has been served inside the Hangar on the Wharf.

While Thursday morning began drizzly, skies withheld precipitation as meals were passed out from the Salvation Army’s mobile cantina.

Some people walked up to the cantina to collect meals, while others waited for volunteers to deliver bags of food to their vehicles. Essentially everyone wore a face covering.

A trunkload of meals is destined for seniors and unsheltered Juneauites. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

A trunkload of meals is destined for seniors and unsheltered Juneauites. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Jeremy Schlosser of Chapel by the Lake was among those picking up food. Schlosser collected dozens of meals to distribute to those helped by the St. Vincent de Paul shelter and residents of Fireweed Place and Trillium Landing. He said the work of the nonprofits and largess of restaurants is appreciated.

The hundreds of meals distributed in person were only part of a larger whole. Prior to the roughly midday distribution, about 450 boxes of food had been delivered to Juneau residents, Halverson said.

Salvation Army Officer Gina Halverson (left) and her daughter, Reilley Halverson (center), carry bags of meals to a waiting vehicle. Kirk Stagg (right) helps direct vehicles at the Downtown Transit Center on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Salvation Army Officer Gina Halverson (left) and her daughter, Reilley Halverson (center), carry bags of meals to a waiting vehicle. Kirk Stagg (right) helps direct vehicles at the Downtown Transit Center on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

She credited the success of the event to the dozens of volunteers, several businesses and Dick Hand, who has long been the man behind the smoked turkeys used in the meals.

“It’s actually quite a team,” Halverson said. “It really has taken a huge community.”

Victoria Godkin, who has been volunteering with the Salvation Army for 21 years, was among that community. Godkin said she was never in doubt the event would go on despite the pandemic.

“The first thing that came to mind is our cantina,” she said before joking, “The best part is we don’t need to cook in it.”

Godkin estimated about 1,500 people would eat from the meals distributed Thursday, and she noted a van would attempt to give leftovers from the meal distribution event to people in need who might not have been able to attend.

People wait in line for Thanksgiving meals at the Downtown Transit Center on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

People wait in line for Thanksgiving meals at the Downtown Transit Center on Thursday, Nov. 26. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

She said the spirit of the event made it an easy decision to volunteer year after year.

[Living & Growing: Keep your fork]

“It’s a good cause,” Godkin said. “God has blessed me, so I am blessing others.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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