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Omaha man spends nearly 30 Thanksgivings giving back to the community

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 1:53 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thanksgiving is a day Doug Thoms holds near to his heart.

For three decades he has been volunteering for the Salvation Army’s Turkey Fest.

“I’ve been involved in turkey fest in one way or another from washing dishes to cutting turkeys, from washing the peas or string beans doing the mash potatoes. Just about anything they need me to do, I do,” said Thoms.

Doug is part of a much larger tradition. It started 30 years ago with workers from the Western Electric phone company.

The group is called the pioneers and Doug is one of the many that continues to carry on the tradition even after the company closed its doors in Omaha.

“It closed about 10 years ago so the volunteers are still going on and doing what we’ve always done. We won’t let stop us,” said Thoms.

Today they are helping to dish out nearly 1,200 meals to those in need. The process works like an assembly line and once it’s boxed up, it gets delivered.

“It will go all over to individual residences that can’t get out. So the people that are in wheelchairs or shut-ins, that are sick or whatever reason. That’s one of the criteria so it’s delivered to house and nursing homes,” said Kevin Newlin, Turkey Fest Chef.

The Salvation Army says the need has grown this year because of the pandemic. And with more people needing a warm meal this holiday, Doug says it’s as important as ever to give back to the community.

“I always say that it takes a village and it does take a village. We look at this as not an I, I situation but a we situation. We need to get out and help people that are less fortunate than us.”

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