Freida

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“It’s a great place, great people, and that lady, if she was not here, we would not be here. She is the glue that runs this place. She is absolutely wonderful. We could not do it without her.”

Rich  (002)Rich, a volunteer who has been with the Salvation Army over the holiday season for 25 years, expressed how much Freida Hadley means to the Thanksgiving and Christmas feeding programs. Every year, two days before Thanksgiving, volunteers gather at the Salvation Army Linwood Center in Kansas City to debone and cook turkeys donated by generous community members. More than thirty volunteers filled the kitchen dining space, where they spent an afternoon preparing holiday meals for hundreds of people.

The coordination of volunteers, along with cooking and food preparation for the hundreds of people the Kansas City Salvation Army feed during the holidays, is no easy task. While time and effort are two obvious components found in this holiday effort, the volunteers say that the love Freida brings to the community, the kitchen and those she feeds, is what motivates her to return.

“She retired… She just comes back to do this. This kitchen could not run on the holidays without her,” Rich said as he decanted a five pound can of green beans. Rich said that every year, he looks forward to giving back and working side-by-side with each of the volunteers – it’s become a tradition, his way to celebrate the holidays.

Thanksgiving eve marks the start day for the rest of the food preparations. Eager volunteers spend all afternoon preparing for the lunch service, which takes place the following day. Green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, complete pumpkin pie are just a few of the traditional goodies patrons can expect.

Freida, the “glue” of the holiday feeding program at the Salvation Army, did not always work in the kitchen. When first joining the Salvation Army, she spent her days with children and family at the Linwood shelter just upstairs from the busy kitchen. Although she thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the children, many of whom still run up to ask for hugs each time they interact, she set her eye on a new way to touch as many lives as possible. Preparing and feeding others – presenting them with the joy of a hot meal – was her new calling.

“I enjoy it. I enjoy doing it for other people,” Freida said on Thanksgiving eve. “Tomorrow, I will be here at 5 a.m… more than 350 (patrons) will come through the door, and they’ll get seated. Volunteers will get in a line and serve the patrons. Just seeing them being served… it’s something special.”

The commitment Freida dedicates to the members of her hometown community is unwavering, originating from a place of remarkable selflessness. While present in the kitchen, witnessing volunteers busily melt butter, mix stuffing, or prepare a pie, it’s hard to not feel moved by the generous devotion of the volunteers who make Thanksgiving possible for so many.

The jovial 64-year-old Rich emphasized how much he wants to ‘be like Freida when he grows up,’ in sheer adoration of her ability to open-handedly support others.

“You can quote me on that,” he said with a chuckle. “I want to be like her.”

When asked why she continuously returns to run the kitchen, Frieda’s response is simple.

“For me, when you come in here and see all these people fed and warm that we serve… that’s why. I just enjoy working here. There are so many people that need help… and through the kitchen, I can help them.”
The commitment Frieda dedicates to the members of her hometown community is unwavering, originating from a place of remarkable selflessness. While present in the kitchen, witnessing volunteers busily melt butter, mix stuffing, or prepare a pie, it’s hard to not feel moved by the generous devotion of the volunteers who make Thanksgiving possible for so many.

The jovial 64-year-old Rich emphasized how much he wants to ‘be like Frieda when he grows up,’ in sheer adoration of her ability to open-handedly support others.

“You can quote me on that,” he said with a chuckle. “I want to be like her.”

When asked why she continuously returns to run the kitchen, Frieda’s response is simple.

“For me, when you come in here and see all these people fed and warm that we serve… that’s why. I just enjoy working here. There are so many people that need help… and through the kitchen, I can help them.”

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