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Salvation Army dinner a 'special touch' on holiday (video)

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Camille Smisek, left, and her daughter, Olivia, 6, of Rochester share a slice of pumpkin pie as they wait for their Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army in Rochester. "To be with my family here in Rochester as a family is so important to me," Smisek said.

After singing "Amazing Grace," visitors and volunteers at the Salvation Army in Rochester gave thanks and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal together Thursday afternoon.

About 150 people waited for plates of hot turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and green beans served by nearly 45 volunteers. After manning their stations in the kitchen, the volunteers joined the group for good food and conversation.

Camille Smisek and her daughter Olivia enjoyed their Thanksgiving meal after spending a cold and rainy morning at the Rochester 5K Gobble Wobble Run. Olivia, 6, said she was thankful for "her mom, her brother, her dad, her grandparents and her school."

"We thought we would come here and enjoy a meal together as a family," Camille said. "To be with my family here in Rochester as a family is so important to me."

The Rochester Salvation Army has been serving a holiday meal for more than a century. Usually the day includes a quick service and then food for those who need a place to go for the holidays, said Salvation Army Maj. James Frye.


"We're having a traditional Thanksgiving meal," Frye said. "This is for those who needed a special touch during the holiday season."

There was no shortage of volunteer help for this year's meal, but the number of people needing the organization's services is growing, said Dave Ferber, director of community engagement at the Salvation Army.

"All are welcome," Ferber said. "We try not to turn anyone away."

Others expressed their thanks for family and a place to go to for Thanksgiving. After living in Rochester for 12 years, the Hernandez family wanted to sit together with other Rochester residents and experience the Thanksgiving feast.

For them, the festivities were more about being thankful that they have one another and that they can spend time together.

"The most important thing is family on a day like today," said Max Hernandez, father of three. "We wanted to experience another culture and eat dinner together as a family."


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Don Paulsen, left, talks with Salvation Army Maj. James Frye during the annual Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army in Rochester.

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