EL PASO, Texas - For the ninth year in a row, there will be a Thanksgiving Celebration at the Downtown Convention Center.
The hope this holiday season is to feed as many as 5,000 people.
But for the first time in memory, the main Salvation Army location on at 4300 East Paisano has decided not to host a Thanksgiving dinner this year, instead concentrating its efforts on the big Downtown celebration.
"We started it when I got elected Mayor in 2005 and then we continued it as my eight years as Mayor," said former Mayor John Cook, who is still involved, along with his wife, in the event. "What they found out is a lot of the people eating at the Salvation Army had already eaten at the Convention Center, so rather than duplicate the effort, they're just going to combine it."
Current El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser has donated $2,500 to the effort. It's also receiving City of El Paso support of up to $10,000.
The Salvation Army kitchen in El Paso serves more than 6,500 meals a month, but this year they're taking their Thanksgiving efforts Downtown to the Convention Center, where they will serve more than 300 pies, 200 bags of rolls, 250 turkeys, seven cases of potatoes, seven cases of corn, five cases of cranberry sauce and eight cases of green beans.
"It does make it very challenging to service about a thousand people, which we had been doing in the past in a very small dining room," said Rose Lucero, director of Community Relations for the Salvation Army in El Paso. "With the economy the way it is, it's really important for non-profits especially to be even more resourceful and collaborate with how they can do things with other organizations or existing partnerships. So this is just one way to do that."
The Downtown Thanksgiving Celebration is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. It's Sun Metro's Customer Appreciation Day, which means free rides, including for those who need a ride Downtown to the Convention Center.
The Rescue Mission of El Paso will still be serving a Thanksgiving meal at its location from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.
Please support the Salvation Army this holiday season with donations. Their bell ringers will be out in over 100 locations on Black Friday.