Driving assistance puts food on the table in Casper | national news


Rows of boxes full of dry goods covered the concrete Tuesday at the Salvation Army’s Goodstein Center for Hope in downtown Casper. A line of cars wrapped around the building, drove down Wolcott Street, and returned to Midwest Avenue.

From 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers delivered dry goods, fruits and vegetables, butter, milk and a Thanksgiving turkey to the trunks of idling vehicles. A volunteer asked how many families in each vehicle needed help, before giving the answer to the team.

“Two families! We shouted.

The drive-thru was a joint effort of the Salvation Army Casper Corps and Joshua’s warehouse and distribution center. Volunteers, students from Natrona County High School and a handful of officers from the Casper Police Department also lent a hand.

Salvation Army Corps officer Major Trish Simeroth said they expected to serve 400 families that day.

Cars lined up behind orange cones on Wolcott Street and Collins Drive. Volunteers stood on the road to direct traffic. Some cars lined up before 8 a.m., volunteers said.

A man chose to forgo the queue by walking forward.

“It’s easier to cross,” he said as he walked away with a turkey in his hand.

Still, things were going pretty well, said Cpt. Tim Simeroth. He is another officer in the Casper Salvation Army and is married to Trish.

The nonprofit organization launched the Last Thanksgiving campaign. The turnout was huge, Simeroth said, and it caught the organization off guard. At one point, the line of cars reached the First Interstate Bank.

This year, The Salvation Army partnered with Joshua’s Storehouse, which helped streamline the operation, Simeroth said.

Joshua’s Storehouse gathered the pantry items while the Salvation Army tended to the wet goods.

The turkeys were paid for by private donations and grants, Simeroth said. By 11 a.m. they were exhausted, so they provided ham and chickens for them.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy economic toll on families, and more people are relying on food banks to make ends meet, said Kody Allen, executive director of Joshua’s Storehouse.

“We knew that this year people would need a lot of help on Thanksgiving,” Allen said.

Joshua’s Storehouse served around 9,000 people in 2019, he said. This year, they have already helped around 12,700 people.

Students at Natrona County High School put boxes full of cereal, canned goods, macaroni and cheese, soup broth and peanut butter in the backs of idling cars.

They squinted against the wind, which blew dust on every face. A large top-shaped cloud hung in the sky. Altocumulus lenticularis. A sign of a windy fall day.

It’s nice to see so many people face to face, said Trish Simeroth. The pandemic has isolated people in need. She is concerned for the Casper families, especially the elderly, who have suffered greatly over the past two years.

Events like these, she said, are a chance to reach out, say hello, and ask how you are doing.

“Need has no season,” she said, recalling a famous Salvation Army saying.


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