Salvation Army elves save Christmas once again


Kiana George

A volunteer hauls 60 meals to his car in preparation for delivery.

Santa isn’t the only one delivering presents and spreading joy across the world. Because on Christmas morning, hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers rallied together to prepare and disperse meals to over 4,000 homebound residents across San Francisco.

Founded in 1865, the Salvation Army is a Christian church with over 1.5 million members across 130 countries. The organization assists 23 million Americans annually by providing shelter, helping to combat addiction and hunger, and stopping domestic violence, among other services. 

According to the Salvation Army, the program “exists to meet human need wherever, whenever, and however, they can without discrimination.”

The Salvation Army strives to brighten the holidays by providing meals and toy drives. Recipients of the meals include seniors, people with terminal illnesses, low-income families, homeless, and people in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“Our job is to spread the Christmas spirit to those who are alone because for many of the people we are delivering to the volunteers are the only people they will see on Christmas day,” said Melissa Doppler, the head leader of the event.

Behind the scenes at the Harbor Light Salvation Army kitchen, volunteers helped prepare food and box 3,000 hot food containers on Christmas Eve. They then continued the process at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, assembling 1,000 additional meals.

The packaged meals were then transported in large trucks to the SoMa Corps Community Center. Hundreds of volunteers helped with operations such as sorting the meal boxes in preparation for delivery routes or hand-delivering the meals. 

“I willingly gave up my Christmas morning because it’s priceless seeing the smile and the hope on the citizen’s faces when they receive a meal,” said Victor Chin, one of the events coordinators.

Volunteers delivered both a hot meal and a cold package to residents in the Tenderloin and Chinatown, among other communities. The hot meal consisted of mashed potatoes, collard greens, mixed vegetables, and ham. The cold portion of the meal included fruit, chocolate milk, and cookies.

Although the organization has a stable system in place, this year, they encountered a problem due to an accidental error. Towards the end of the morning, they discovered they still had 35 routes to deliver and no more drivers. 

With some investigation, the organizers realized that they had made some of the delivery assignments half the size they should have been, leaving about 700 meals that still needed to be delivered.

Volunteers who had initially signed up to pack boxes were asked to step up and help deliver the remaining meals to homeless shelters and hotels. 

One such volunteer was Sho Takahashi, a freshman at UC Berkeley.

“To me, stepping up to deliver packages ended up being a humbling experience. When one of the residents came out of his room and told us that we were what made his Christmas merry, it was the best moment of my day,” Takahashi said.

With the help of families who have been volunteering for the past 25 years to first-time volunteers, the salvation delivery ‘elves’ were able to pull off feeding thousands of people across San Francisco. 

“It’s not me who makes this happen, it’s all of you who are bound together by the love of Jesus,” Chin said.