While families prepare to sit down together this Thanksgiving, there are many people across the country who aren't as fortunate. Charities and homeless shelters that normally prepare a warm Thanksgiving meal for those in need are having to make some changes this year due to the pandemic.
"The importance of Thanksgiving is not these big celebrations with the bells and whistles -- of course it is incredible to be able to be there with one another -- but it's really about providing that meal for those who are experiencing homelessness. And so, we really focused on how to still be able to provide that meal during Thanksgiving to those people," says Nicole Tschetter with the Denver Rescue Mission.
The Denver Rescue Mission usually has a large banquet and celebration with the Colorado Governor and other prominent members of the community coming out to bring attention to homelessness, and serve hot meals to those in need. This year, the organization is scaling down, serving meals at two smaller locations.
"The people that are eating there are the people that are staying at those specific locations," says Tschetter.
Tschetter still expects the Denver Rescue Mission will serve several thousand meals this Thanksgiving, just in a safe, physically distant manner.
Union Station Homeless Services in Los Angeles County is serving many of their Thanksgiving meals "to go."
"It's both a to-go meal for the pre-prepared ones or a fix-it-yourself, kind of like a grocery box full of lunch. So, whichever is the easiest for people. We want people to be able to share meals with their friends or family in their safe bubble and this provides two opportunities for people to get food," says Union Station Homeless Services CEO Anne Miskey.
Miskey says they have fewer volunteers than normal this year, but the need they're seeing is great. A need not just for food or shelter but also human kindness.
"How do we recognize other people’s humanity? How do we have touch points even if we can’t physically touch people or get closer than 6 feet? How do we continue to show people we care, we’re here, we continue to help and support you," says Miskey.
Tschetter recalls the story of a prior guest of the Denver Rescue Mission.
"It makes the world of a difference to be able to sit down and have food and, you know, I don’t remember the last time I had a warm meal and to just feel loved and feel a sense of dignity and a sense of normalcy is just such a huge thing for people who are experiencing homelessness," says Tschetter.
These organizations are recognizing the importance of giving back and appreciating all we have to be thankful for in the midst of a pandemic.