Doing the most good for Christmas: Cooking for the Salvation Army
Every year, for twelve years, chef Gary Wiviott of Barn & Company, leads a group of chefs, cooks, and other volunteers to cook and serve dinner to clients of the Salvation Army Freedom Center. These are men who have no place to go for Christmas. Men who are trying to put their lives back together.
This year we fed almost 200 men a prime rib dinner with all the fixings. This was a meal you would pay a large sum for in a restaurant.
Merrill and Nancy Powers are the leadership team who operate the Freedom Center. Merrill is a serious barbecue competitor. The Today show featured Merrill Powers in a segment with chef Bobby Flay.
I learned Merrill Powers is a former police officer. That makes him my brother.
Gary Wiviott puts out a call for volunteers weeks before the Christmas dinner. This year, over 70 people volunteered to cook, decorate, and serve dinner. This is no buffet. This dinner is table service. Some of these men were never served dinner before.
The dinner consisted of prime rib with a rub cooked low and slow, mac and cheese, a vegetable medley, Nancy Powers corn pudding, smashed or smooshed baked and fried potatoes, cranberry sauce, and dessert.
The chefs and cooks started around 9 a.m. for 5 p.m. service. The other volunteers started arriving later in the afternoon to decorate tables, set up the service line, and serve the food.
It is a very efficient operation.
I first participated last year. It was one of the best experiences I ever had. I returned this year and God willing, years to come.
We who cook, whether professionally or at home, share the love. There is no better way of sharing the love than cooking for those less fortunate than us. Seeing these men enjoying a meal served to them is a reward in and of itself.
I am grateful to the Powers and Gary Wiviott for this opportunity.
Here is a video from last year:
There are ample opportunities for doing good in your community. Do something. Help others. Have the attitude of, “But for the Grace of God, there go I.”