Jacqueline Campbell was absolutely stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite.
She tackled the mashed potatoes and green beans without issue, but the massive turkey leg given to her at the Burbank Salvation Army on Wednesday during its Thanksgiving dinner proved to be her undoing.
“It’s just too much turkey,” she said. “They gave me this drumstick, just this giant … thing.”
Campbell was seated in the Burbank Corps’ gym, along with Coco Gonzalez and Nina Chavez. The three are neighbors at a senior living complex across from George Izay Park and have been going to the organization’s Thanksgiving dinners for several years.
“Sometimes we’ll have no other place to go for dinner or our families are too far away,” Gonzalez said.
Campbell said she is grateful to have a place to enjoy a holiday meal with her friends and neighbors, giant turkey leg notwithstanding.
“It’s so nice that they have this for people. It’s just wonderful,” she said.
Lt. Kelly Berggren, who oversees the Burbank Corps with his wife, Natalia, spent all day with volunteers getting everything ready for the free dinner — setting up tables and getting the food ready.
Sixteen turkeys were prepared for the evening, and he lost track of how many pounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing were made. He just knew there was enough food to feed 325 people and it took two Dodge vans to transport it from the Marriott Hotel, where it was cooked.
It’s his first year overseeing the meal, having come over from the Salvation Army in Clovis, N.M.
“Clovis, there’s so much poverty, and everybody needs help,” he said. “Burbank, obviously, there’s a lot more resources for the homeless and low-income, but there’s still a constant need of those resources.”
He called the dinner a “labor of love” that wouldn’t have been possible without support from the Burbank businesses that donated food and members of the local Rotary Club who helped serve the meals.
Rather than have people wait in line for their food, they were seated and their meals were brought to their tables.
Jay Freedman said he was grateful for the meal and the services provided by the Salvation Army.
“It’s a blessing. When you’re homeless, you don’t often get to have free food,” he said. “To find a hot meal and a place to shower is a struggle.”
Freedman added that not a lot of places in the San Fernando Valley offer the same services as the Burbank Corps, and he said he was even hired by the Salvation Army to be a bell ringer for its red kettle campaign.
“The fact that they’re putting homeless people to work instead of pushing them away says something,” he said.