Salvation Army serves Thanksgiving to Bellflower community

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The Salvation Army Bellflower Corps served Thanksgiving diner to the community in a drive-thru charity event. Their patrons thanked them on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

Vincent Medina

The Salvation Army Bellflower Corps served 300 families in need a Thanksgiving feast on Tuesday.

Volunteers and Salvation Army officers organized the socially distanced food pantry. Community members lined up in their cars to receive their free meal. Each family received a box of traditional Thanksgiving food and a large turkey.

Cars lined up all the way down Cedar street to wait for their meals.

The food was provided by a variety of local vendors and donors.

“One box includes 18 meals for the family,” said corps officers Manuel Martinez. “It’s a problem for low-income families. Once they register, we know how many meals to prepare.”

Martinez has worked at Salvation Army for 21 years and has dedicated himself to their mission of helping others and serving the community.

“We serve people from Bellflower, Artesia, Cerritos, Norwalk, and Paramount,” said volunteer youth director Angie Figueroa. “We offer meal distribution once a month. We offer it for two groups on two different weeks, but since it’s Thanksgiving, everybody comes on the same day.”

Figueroa has also volunteered for 20 years with the charity. She was inspired by the services the Salvation Army offered the community and their dedication to helping others regardless of background.

People waiting in line were thankful for the Salvation Army’s service, as many suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salvation Army volunteers observe COVID-19 safety protocols and place the Thanksgiving meal in patron's car. They organized their drive-thru charity event on Nov. 23, 2021.
Salvation Army volunteers observe COVID-19 safety protocols and place the Thanksgiving meal in patron's car. They organized their drive-thru charity event on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

Since the birth of her son, Gloria Seehusen has relied on the charity’s services.

“I just lost my job, and my husband did, too,” said Seehusen. “[Salvation Army] helps us with toys, food, necessities, every year they give us a Christmas basket.”

The mother recalled a former charity worker who always ensured she was doing well and had everything she needed.

“I’m very blessed and grateful,” said Seehusen.

Ceiba Atiendo has utilized the Salvation Army’s resources once, during Christmas in 2020.

“With COVID, we’ve had a low income,” said Atiendo. “My husband lost his job. I’ve been working, but they’ve cut our hours.”

Atiendo is a mother of four and showed her gratitude for the assistance during the holidays. She anticipates returning in December for the Salvation Army’s subsequent meal distribution and toy giveaway for children under 12 years old.

While the charity is playing an essential role in the community, they struggle to continue running their programs.

“At this moment, the main challenge we have is financial support. During the pandemic, the need for our services is three times greater,” said Martinez. “We provide shelter, homework program for kids, we deliver meals to people in our area.”

Their annual Salvation Army Kettles are adapting to try and receive more donations.

Figueroa described that the kettles are being outfitted with Apple Pay services. People can donate money from their phones if they do not have cash or spare change.

The Salvation Army will continue its charity events through the December and winter holidays. They expect to see an increase in registration for their Christmas food distribution and toys giveaway.