Volunteers, donations make Salvation Army Christmas dinner in Ogdensburg happen

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OGDENSBURG — By 11 a.m. Monday, the Ogdensburg Salvation Army had already delivered complete Christmas meals to about 70 people in the community.

The kitchen kept buzzing after the deliveries as a squad of volunteers prepared for an expected 100 or more people to dine in at the Franklin Street facility starting at noon.

Preparations for the meal began early in the week and reached a frenzied pace on Christmas Eve.

With 26 turkeys yet to cook, each weighing from 16 to 18 pounds, five roasters and two ovens, the birds had to be cooked in shifts, Lt. Shaun McNeil explained.

And there were 130 pounds of potatoes to peel and yams to prepare and green bean casserole to assemble — not to mention the dozens of desserts.

Most recently, the Amvets had been delivering Christmas dinners to those in Ogdensburg who could not get out on Christmas Day.

The Salvation Army stepped up this year to provide the service and got help from all sorts of community members.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, collected donations, Mike Knowlton, of Knowlton and Sons, Norwood, made a donation of turkeys, as did Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.

“The Odd Fellows, Knights (of Columbus), Rotary and Kiwanis all gave us checks for your meal,” Lt. McNeil said.

When it came down to getting the meal on plates, 82-year-old Mary McDonald was ready.

Mrs. McDonald helped with the Amvets’ meal for 27 years, she said. And, for 15 years before that, she helped the Knights of Columbus prepare a Christmas feast.

“I take people to the doctor,” Mrs. McDonald said of her love of volunteerism. “I do what I can.”

Her family can take care of itself, she said of her 16 children, 27 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.

“I’ve been here since 7:30 a.m.,” she said. “I do what they ask me to do.”

Just before noon, Lt. Stacy McNeil, called her crew of volunteers into the small kitchen for last-minute instructions, a pep talk and a prayer.

Then they took their posts behind the trays of food, a line of diners formed and Christmas dinner was served in Ogdensburg.

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