Holiday duty is an inevitable part of being a newspaper reporter. News doesn’t stop on holidays, and unlike Santa, journalists don’t have elves to help them out.
But for me, working on a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas is fun and not a chore. It’s a change of pace, and a chance to be more creative. And of course, there’s always the chance that something unexpected (almost always bad) will happen.
So today I am just finishing up my Turkey Day article for the North County Times. The holiday stories have a fairly standard format: give a round-up of what happened locally in terms of observances, and include cops news and the weather. The particulars are always subtly different, however, and that is what makes them special.
This morning I went to the Escondido branch of the Salvation Army, where they were ready to feed about 350 people. By no means are these meals limited to the poor. As Major David Ebel explained to me, the dinners are meant to welcome all in the community who wish to drop by. If you don’t have anyone else to eat with, if you’re lonely or sad, they’ll give you companionship and a great dinner.
The photos above were taken by photographer Bill Costello, the official photographer for the Salvation Army.
I watched as some of the 60 volunteers smashed the potatoes in their pots – these were real spuds, not from a box. Others assembled the trays and brought them out to the diners.
Volunteer Deanna Kundinger of San Marcos said this was the first time she had helped out with the dinner.
“This year, I am not cooking for anyone,” Kundinger explained. “Two of my children are fixing Thanksgiving dinner, so I thought this would be the ideal time to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Being around people like that and writing about them makes me feel very close to the holiday spirit. And on that note, here’s a message from Major Ebel of the Escondido Salvation Army: Donations are needed to help them reach their goal of providing 1,000 people with Christmas gift baskets.
“To do those 1,000 (baskets), that’s 3,500 toys I do not have,” Ebel said. And they’re still shy about 4 1/2 pounds of food per basket.
Those who wish to donate can bring unwrapped toys to the Escondido Salvation Army branch at 1301 Las Villas Way. That’s just south of El Norte Parkway and west of Centre City Parkway. Click here for a map. You should call first for details, at 760-745-8616, ext. 100.
My blog post on Thanksgiving is available by clicking this sentence. I’ll add a link to my actual story when it’s up.(UPDATE – here it is.)
And when my story is done, I’m off to my wonderful sister Vanessa’s, where my own Thanksgiving feast awaits. I hope you all had an equally wonderful Thanksgiving!