Salvation Army volunteers prep food to feed thousands on Christmas Day

Posted at 8:24 PM, Dec 23, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- With only two days until Christmas, volunteers for the Salvation Army spent Friday preparing for "Christmas Family Feast" -- the Salvation Army's largest Christmas-day meal in the country.

"They're having fun," Chef Bob Ilk said, in reference to the dozens of volunteers assisting him in the kitchen.

"It's not work, in here it's fun, at least we try to make it fun," Chef Ilk continued.

Chef Ilk runs the kitchen and spends countless hours cooking for the family feast. He's worked as lead chef for the Christmas dinner for the past three years.

"On Sunday it's kind of surreal, it just happens," Chef Ilk said. "You get here about a quarter to six, and you don't think about it, you just do."

The kind of "do[ing]" Chef Ilk is referring to is exactly what inspired Beverly Pickering-Reyna to lend a helping hand along with the nearly 180 other volunteers this year.

"Part of what we do with our camps during our mentoring program is teach our young people how important it is to give back to the community," Pickering-Renya said.

Pickering-Reyna previously volunteered for the Salvation Army's family feast when she was younger, and now she's encouraging other young adults to do the same.

"I think this is a time honored tradition with more than 20 years of service, and so just to be a part of that is phenomenal for me," she continued.

8,000 people are expected to dine at Sunday's dinner. Dinner is at the Wisconsin Center, it begins at 11 am and will be served until 2:30 pm. Take out containers will be available by the 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue exit once the dinner ends. 

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