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Annual veterans’ lunch returns as a drive-thru

SALISBURY — Powles Staton Funeral Home, the Hotdog Shack and Salisbury Elks Lodge are bringing back its lunch for veterans at the Elk Lodge, 508 South Main St., on Wednesday with a twist to comply with COVID-19 gathering limits.

This event looks similar to others hosted by Powles Staton, but instead of sitting down for lunch, veterans and families of veterans can come through a make-shift drive-thru the Hotdog Shack is setting up on-site to provide meals.

Powles Staton Funeral Director Russ Roakes said a number of the funeral service’s clients are families of veterans, and the lunch has become a tradition for the funeral home.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Gene Overstreet was originally scheduled to speak at the lunch in April, and Powles Staton plans to bring him in to speak in the future.

Hotdog Shack is providing the food and labor as community service and donates its services to other events as well.

“We do a lot of different veteran things in the community,” Owner Jason Smith said. “Those are easy decisions for us. We enjoy doing it.”

Smith said cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up the restaurant’s schedule, and it has a mobile unit for catering events like these.

“Our availability is through the roof, so it just worked out,” Smith said.

Smith said the mobile unit usually stays busy and helped with a similar event recently, and the business dedicates part of its revenue to community outreach events like this.

“One of the biggest honors for us is to provide these veterans these meals when we are able to,” Smith said. “If it wasn’t for folks like them, something as simple as a small hotdog stand in a little town would not be possible. We do feel honored to provide these meals when we are able to.”

The restaurant feeds the veterans at the monthly bingo night at the Salisbury V.A. Medical Center, and often provides meals at Powles Staton.

Staff will be wearing gloves and masks while serving attendees at their vehicles and veterans eat free.

Roakes noted more restrictions were rolled back on Friday afternoon and the limits on attendance at funerals will be lifted as well, but there will still be limits on gathering sizes for visitations. Roaks said it is a relief more people will be able to attend funerals to grieve properly.

The home also collects retired flags to drape flags over veterans who are cremated and new toys for children of families in the N.C. National Guard as part of Operation Toy Soldier and will be doing so at the lunch.

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