Fort Worth

Cowboys serve early Thanksgiving meals at Salvation Army

Kali Kunestler wore her Jason Witten jersey Monday because she knew some of the Dallas Cowboys would be at the Salvation Army service center in Fort Worth to serve an early Thanksgiving meal.

But Witten and other Cowboys were serving at the Salvation Army Carr P. Collins Social Service Center in Dallas instead.

Kunestler and several hundred others at Mabee Social Service Center got rookie Cowboys defensive tackles Chris Whaley and Davon Coleman along with three other rookies and several Cowboys cheerleaders.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” Kunestler said as she held her 8-month daughter, Modesty, on Monday. “I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan all my life, and now I can tell everyone that I was served by a Cowboy.”

Kunestler was among more than 700 people in Dallas and Fort Worth who were served by Cowboys and cheerleaders at the annual early dinner sponsored by UnitedHealthcare and Albertsons. It was the fourth year for the event at the Salvation Army in Fort Worth, where about 400 people were served. Last year, about 350 people were served in Fort Worth.

Major Ward Matthews, a DFW Metroplex commander of the Salvation Army, said Monday that it took two days to prepare the turkey, but the rolls, cranberry sauce and other dishes were made Monday.

Serving was hard work — Coleman was sweating within minutes after he started doling out turkey and dressing. The meal also included mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

“It’s all good,” said Coleman, a first-year player from Arizona State University. “This is a great way to give back to the community.”

Coleman is somewhat of a veteran holiday server. The Sun Devils served meals during Christmas when they played at the Kraft Hunger Bowl in 2012 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

“We’re just football players,” Coleman said Monday. “We’re no different than these people and everyone should help each other.”

Players and cheerleaders took time to sign autographs for their fans.

Kunestler had her Witten jersy signed by the Dallas rookies.

“I got in line as soon as I could,” Kunestler said. “It’s been a very good day.”

Jimmy Woodson of Fort Worth agreed. He brought along a football for autographs.

“It’s different,” Woodson said when asked about having an early Thanksgiving dinner. “And impressive.”