SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- A full Thanksgiving meal was served at the main headquarters on West Chestnut Expressway in Springfield Thursday afternoon.

“This is such a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving. It reminds you really what it’s all about. That feeling of community and people sitting at the tables and talking,” says Salvation Army Major Jon Augenstein.

More than 300 hundred people were expected at the salvation army of Springfield for a true thanksgiving dinner. Major Augenstein says the event is returning to normal this year after the pandemic put a halt on big gatherings.

He says dozens of volunteers have come back to serve those that would otherwise go without.

“What’s wonderful is these volunteers are motivated on a day when people are thinking about being with their own families,” Major Jon Augenstein. “They give a part of their day to come here and make it special for people who can’t get together as a family. They come from all walks of life. They are young, they’re old, sometimes it’s an entire family.”

That’s the case for Derek Vickery, and his two daughters. Vickery says he volunteered for the first time at Harbor House in Springfield last Thanksgiving.

In 2021, he’s come back to serve again. This time, with his whole family.”

“I really wanted them to see what it was like to really give out and help out in the community, because sometimes kids think well we get to do this and this and go places and kind of show them you know, hey, there are other things we can do than going out to a nice big dinner when we can serve someone,” Derek Vickery, a volunteer for Salvation Army.

On a day where a gym is transformed into a dining hall filled with smiles, warm food, and full bellies, serving meals to those in need fulfills the Salvation Army’s motto this year, “Hope Marches On.”

“When I take the food around to them or a piece of pie or even their drink, they just seem really grateful,” says Vickery. “Everyone I’ve talked to so far is like thank you so much; this is awesome. We wouldn’t have had a meal if it wasn’t for you guys.”

“I mean, it’s why the Salvation Army is here to provide these opportunities for the community and to share God’s love,” adds Major Augenstein.

As Thanksgiving wraps up, The Salvation Army says it’s next focus is on providing Christmas toys and meals to hundreds of families in Springfield. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign has a goal of raising $1 million by 2022.