OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Throughout the COVID pandemic, the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army has shuttered many of its programs and scaled back on others. But this week, it has hosted its first eat-in food programs and on Sunday it will hold the first Sunday church service since early last 2020.

Sunday’s “Homecoming” will offer “fellowship, food and fun,” said W. Todd Bassett, a retired nation commander and a member and soldier of the OOB chapter.

This week is “the first opportunity since COVID to open up completely the activities and programs of the local Salvation Army,” he said.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Old Orchard Beach chapter offered a soup kitchen at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays at it’s 6 Church St. location where people could go in and enjoy a free meal. Prior to the meal, people, primarily those 55 and older, could go and relax, play a card game or Bingo and have refreshments.

That hasn’t happened for the last 1 1/2 years, Bassett said. Although the meals were available, they were only available on a take-out basis. But Tuesday, Sept. 14, the OOB building was open again for an eat-in meal and gathering. “Now that more people have been vaccinated,” Bassett said, the meals will continue to be offered inside on both Tuesdays and Fridays now that many COVID restrictions have been lifted. Wearing a mask is recommended but not required, he said.

In addition to reopening the dine-in food program, the first church service since COVID will be held Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Bassett said he hopes many familiar faces, and new ones, will attend. This will also be an opportunity for people to meet the new leaders of the local chapter, Majors Dan and Karen Brunelle. Bassett said while the Brunelles started their new positions a year ago, because of COVID many haven’t had the opportunity to meet them.

Most indoor programs have opened up, Bassett said. Although the afterschool program for children hasn’t begun, he said it should be opening soon.

For more information about the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army, call 934-4381.


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