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The Salt Mine gears up for Turkey Day

By: Brandon Darnell, Reporter, Lincoln News Messenger
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For the past two years, Kirby Schmidt has visited The Salt Mine for some necessities, including meat, powdered milk and bread, as well as the occasional birthday cake. “I come by about once a month to pick up a food box or a food bag for my family,” Schmidt said. “I know everyone here pretty well. They’re pretty cool. Without them, there’d be a whole lot of people starving.” With Thanksgiving approaching, The Salt Mine is gearing up to serve its annual Thanksgiving meals, and help is needed. “They give you a turkey for Turkey Day,” Schmidt said. The fifth annual canned food drive sponsored by the members of the Lincoln Real Estate Committee will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Safeway. “It would be such a blessing if people could help out with Thanksgiving items,” said The Salt Mine Pastor Eric Long. He added that the current economic woes have increased the community’s needs and anything is greatly appreciated. “It’s going to be tough to juggle this year,” Long said. Families in need from the Lincoln area can fill out applications through Friday for a free Thanksgiving meal. In the three weeks applications have been available, Long said, 250 families ranging in size from four to 16 members, have signed up. “What we’re doing for Thanksgiving,” Long said, “is preparing food boxes containing everything a family will need for taking home and preparing a Thanksgiving meal. They come in the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and pick up their boxes.” Any canned food “is great,” said Youth Minister Matt Snatchko but Thanksgiving items, such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams, pies, green beans, potatoes and gravy are very helpful for putting the Thanksgiving dinner food boxes together. Also, Snatchko added, there are freezers at The Salt Mine and turkey donations are needed. Although The Salt Mine is a church, there are no religious requirements for receiving help, Long said. The only requirements are that the recipient be in need and live in the Lincoln area. “It’s the kickoff to the season,” said Christine Bluhm of Century 21 Real Estate. “We have a van and we’re trying to fill up that van.” Bluhm added that more and more of the businesses within the Lincoln Real Estate Committee and around town are getting involved with the drive. “It makes you feel good. You did something for someone,” Bluhm said. “We’re hoping to grow this each year. It’s our small contribution.” Another benefit for The Salt Mine will be held in conjunction with the Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony on Dec. 6. One Life Church members will collect nonperishable food during the events, Long said. The Christmas season is traditionally when everyone gets into the giving spirit, Long said, but The Salt Mine operates 50 weeks out of each year, and donations and volunteers are needed all the time. “On a daily basis, we are the only one like this in Lincoln,” Long said. Highlighting the need to provide for the area’s needy, Long said that by noon on Nov. 13, a typical day, they had already fed 50 individuals. Some days, however, there is a bigger crowd, according to Kirby Schmidt, who said he has stood in line waiting for the doors to open and seen it stretch across the train tracks. The Salt Mine has been in the community since 1985 and has provided meals and support since then. With many of the area’s homeless frequenting the church, a shower was installed for them, Snatchko said. “As our fellow man gets down, we see people rising up and helping out,” Long said. “We serve as an avenue for that. I like that about this place.” Snatchko and Long both said that there would be no way The Salt Mine could function without the support of the community. They said that charities such as Raley’s Food for Families, the various canned food drives, schools, scouting groups and Lincoln Hills organizations really make their work possible. “The neat thing about this is it’s local people helping local people,” Long said. INFO BOX: How you can help: 1. Monetary donations to The Salt Mine or Food For Families in the Lincoln Raley’s 2. Thrift store donations at The Salt Mine thrift shops at 454 F Street and 105 Floccini. 3. Volunteering to take donations on the curb 4. Volunteering to work as a backup for the food closet personnel when they go on vacation 5. Spanish speakers are always needed If you wish to help out, call Pastor Eric Long at 645-0160 or the thrift shop at 645-3778. The Salt Mine’s wish list for the Thanksgiving food boxes: 1,000 lbs. of potatoes 500 turkey gravy packets 500 cans of jellied cranberry 200 cans of chicken broth 250 cans of yams 150 cans of stuffing 200 cans of corn 250 packs of brown-and-serve dinner rolls 250 turkey pans Turkeys of all sizes Monetary donations with which to purchase pies the night before the food is handed out.