AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken’s One Table Event may be taking a year off, but the Salvation Army is picking up the slack.
It’s been nearly two months since it was announced the annual Aiken tradition would be cancelled this year. According to organizer Kathryn Wade, this is because “they don’t have the kitchen for it”.
The kitchen they’ve used in years past is Newberry Hall, but with a jam-packed schedule for the holiday season, Owner Patrick Carlisle wanted to make sure his staff had much needed time off.
The news came to the surprise of many in the Aiken community, including the very organization that partnered with them last year.
“When we found out that One Table wasn’t going to happen, we saw the need, and how much people really depended on – not really utilizing it, but having it,” said Salvation Army Captain April Tiller.
But that didn’t stop the Salvation Army from doing something about it. Last year they saw 1,500 people show up and they’re expecting the same numbers this year. Tiller says with the amount of people who attend, it’s a reminder of how important it is for the feast to continue.
“This is more than feeding a homeless event. This is literally feeding the community, bringing us together as one. Sitting down at the table and saying hey you know what, we’re all here and we all are family in this community. So for me, it’s about family,” said Tiller.
Tiller says holding this huge event at their location is also an opportunity for the Salvation Army – not only to feed the community, but to let them know there is help that many still need. “This is one way of spreading the word that there is a homeless shelter, and that we do have family rooms, we do have men’s and women’s dormitories. So this is sharing our own story, as well as meeting this need for this community.”
While the future of Aiken One Table is still up in the air, Tiller says her and the Salvation Army are hopeful it will come back.
“It meant something to make sure we just continue to have it. We hope and pray that One Table comes back in full force. We partnered with them last year to make sure that happened, and when they said they were unable to do it this year, I said you know what, Salvation Army will step up. And that’s what we’re here for: to meet human need but not discrimination,” said Tiller.
The community dinner will be this Thursday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be at The Salvation Army’s shelter at 604 Park Ave.
For more background on One Table being canceled, click here.