An annual tradition of the Steubenville Salvation Army gets up and running again this year with the launch of the Shepherd's Table at the Salvation Army, which is located at 332 N. Fourth St., Steubenville.
Maj. Earline May, corps commanding officer, explained the Shepherd's Table is a free hot meal served at the Salvation Army every Sunday from noon to 1 p.m., beginning Feb. 3.
"It's for anyone and everyone who, whether they're hungry or not or just want to come and have a meal and don't want to eat alone, they can come to the Salvation Army," Mae said.
Maj. Earline Mae, corps commanding officer
of the Steubenville Salvation Army
-- Janice Kiaski
There's no paperwork connected to this annual lunch where the attendance averages around 60 people - "a little bit more toward the end of the month as money and funds run out, but we're here, and we encourage the community to come and participate," Mae said.
While the Salvation Army has volunteers who assist with preparing and serving the meal, anyone who wants to do likewise and help with cleanup also is welcome to attend this food-and-fellowship opportunity.
"Our church family takes care of it, but one or two extra volunteers is always helpful," Mae said.
For the most part, the food comes from the Mid-Ohio Food Pantry from which the Salvation Army makes purchases thanks to monetary donations from the community.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by making a check payable to the Salvation Army and designating it in the memo line for "hunger program" or "Shepherd's Table."
The Shepherd's Table operates year-round except for the months of November and December.
The Salvation Army also has a food pantry that is open five days a week to the community, according to Mae, who on Friday was assessing food donations provided by Riesbeck's in Wintersville. The store makes weekly food donations to the Salvation Army on Thursday and Friday to help meet the food pantry needs. As the Shepherd's Table gets under way, some will be used for that as well.
"The demand has been significant," Mae said. "We've had about a 60 percent increase in clients since the economy has gone bad. That's over the past two years, a 60 percent increase, and that food from the food bank is funded through the generosity of the community who writes checks to the Salvation Army," she said.
"Hunger is definitely a concern for this community," Mae said. Testimony to that is that there are many churches and organizations providing a meal either lunch or supper throughout the community "so it's a concern, and we need the community to just get on board and help support it."
Beyond the Salvation Army meeting the physical hunger needs of individual, it exists to meet spiritual hunger as well, according to Mae.
The Salvation Army has a nondenominational Sunday service every week that begins at 11 a.m. and is led by Mae, who is a pastor. There also are Sunday school classes for all ages at 9:45 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.
"I absolutely am amazed that in the 41 years that I have been a pastor serving at Salvation Army centers in this great nation, that people still do not know the Salvation Army is a church, and we are a church," Mae said.
Attendance averages around 25 for the Sunday services. "We certainly want to build on that, so we just invite the community to come and worship with us. We're a friendly group," she said.
For information on the Salvation Army, call (740) 282-5121.