On any given day, The Salvation Army of East Chicago serves a lunch to 30 to 120 people in need.


On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, however, the organization puts on a lunch for up to 600 thanks to Ameristar Casino and a small army of volunteers. For at least 10 years, Ameristar Casino has cooked a Thanksgiving meal the Tuesday before the holiday for the Salvation Army of East Chicago, who strives to feed more than 600 individuals, families and seniors who would otherwise go without during the holiday.


Approximately 400 to 500 people showed up for this year’s event, held on November 27, 2014 at Ameristar Casino.


“It’s the biggest charitable event we do each year,” said Ameristar spokesman Reginald Dotson in an interview with the Post-Tribune. “It’s a part of who we are. It’s a great core of citizens, and there’s no better time to show our commitment to the community.


“It’s an honor and privilege to do it every year.”


Salvation Army Capt. Daniel Paredes said he’s kept up the tradition of the Ameristar feast since he came to East Chicago Salvation Army Division on Chicago Avenue. And each year, it’s a pleasure.


“We want to have a communion with the community,” Paredes said in an interview with the Post-Tribune. “The people just come in, and it’s like a real Thanksgiving dinner. For many, this is what they wait for all year.”


Nivia Paredes, who acts as co-captain along with her husband at the East Chicago Division, said their mission is not only to help people get food and assistance, but to also give them the foundation to be on their own.


“We want to build self-esteem,” Paredes said in an interview with the Post-Tribune. “A lot of people lose their minds when they lose hope, so our goal is to help them provide for themselves one step at a time.”


For more information about becoming involved with the local Salvation Army of East Chicago, visit http://salarmychicago.org/eastchicago/volunteer.


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