Thanksgiving’s Harvest: Local organizations give to the needy this holiday

This Thanksgiving season, organizations such as the Salvation Army and South Side Mission, are giving away meals to those who need them. Signs of giving during this Thanksgiving holiday time are abundantly clear throughout great businesses and organizations in the Central Illinois area.

Rich Draeger, Assistant Development Director from the Salvation Army, explains that the Salvation Army organization has a Thanksgiving Day Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Sylvia Fites Family Services Center at 417 NE Jefferson in Peoria.

The meal includes a traditional Thanksgiving meal with music and refreshments for those who are in need. This is a great opportunity for those who cannot afford to eat this holiday to spend time with others and share in a great meal. The Salvation Army also distributes food baskets on December 17th for those who need food during this holiday season.

Another group, the South Side Mission, also gives regularly during this time for those who are in need. Meg Newell, Associate Executive Director of Marketing & Development, explains that over 2,000 meals are delivered to those in need during the Thanksgiving celebration. Typically around the 2,200 range of meals are handed out to the needy.

Over 2,700 meals have been distributed during certain years, which has had a major impact on the hungry during Thanksgiving in Central Illinois. The needy including the handicapped, elderly, shut-ins, and other needy in the area are delivered to by large amounts of volunteers from the organization.

The volunteers bring their families to help during this time with a map of addresses for those locations that have people who need meals. A team will deliver four or five meals at a time, depending on location. When they are finished, volunteers feed up to 2,000 or 3,000 people each Thanksgiving, which is a major way of giving back this holiday.

A lot of what goes on during Thanksgiving deliveries is all dependent upon Thanksgiving volunteers and volunteer contributions. The South Side Mission is a privately funded organization that doesn’t receive government-funded support. 2,200 contribute each year to make this organization possible. Newell says she is very “humbled” that all these people coming together to make it happen. She feels that the organization of South Side Mission is like a mom and that all of Peoria calls South Side Mission their own.

Overall, both The Salvation Army and South Side Mission are making great contributions to Central Illinois this year. For more information on how you can help or for anyone you know in need, contact The Salvation Army through their website at:

and South Side Mission through their website at: by phone or stop into their locations.

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