2016 volunteer Carol Abrahamson helps sort food at the Salvation Army Renton Rotary Food bank. From the Renton Reporter archives.

2016 volunteer Carol Abrahamson helps sort food at the Salvation Army Renton Rotary Food bank. From the Renton Reporter archives.

Salvation Army calls on residents to volunteer

Bodies needed to make sure regular free dinners go smoothly

Once Martha Barrett, Community Programs Manager for the Salvation Army, was pulled over for a broken taillight, and she gave the officer her business card. He ended up volunteering with his family that year.

“It works,” she stated in an email.

Volunteers for the Renton Salvation Army free community supper have started to dwindle this year though, leaving Barrett in a jam.

“We’ve always had the same groups since 2008, some of them have passed on or moved into retirement homes or moved away,” Barrett said.

Renton Salvation Army needs both volunteers and cooks for the community supper, which is Monday through Thursday each week at 720 S Tobin St., Renton.

Barrett said she’s hoping a couple businesses or community members can step up to adopt a day each month where they help put the dinner on.

“It would be nice to not have to send this every month with an emergency call,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the community came together to help after an email sent Tuesday, May 28 to several Renton locals expressing the struggle she’s had to retain volunteers for the supper. Volunteer cooks have also retired or moved recently, she stated in that email.

She was in “crucial need” for volunteers for several days in June, so Barrett sent out an urgent email. Since then, all but June 4 has been filled.

Barrett also needs volunteers for July 2, 8, 16, 25, 30, and 31.

Summer months are especially hard for recruiting as volunteers go on vacation, Barrett said.

She is working to get the word out. She’s dedicated to getting more volunteers.

Each community supper needs five to eight volunteers who usually stay from 5 – 7 p.m. They set up tables, make coffee, serve supper, serve donated pastries, wash dishes and clean up. Another one to two volunteers need to cook, which starts at 1 p.m.

“The folks that come in aren’t just homeless or facing addiction,” Barrett said. “There are seniors on a fixed income, families that are low income, even just widowers or lonely people.”

There are several groups, including local churches that currently support Salvation Army by regularly volunteering at the supper, Barrett stated in the May 28 email.

Help out

Those interested in helping can email Barrett at martha.barrett@usw.salvationarmy.org. Available calendar days are listed at Renton.SalvationArmy.org, under “Community Meals.”

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