Organizations work through COVID-19 restrictions to provide for others this Thanksgiving

NOW: Organizations work through COVID-19 restrictions to provide for others this Thanksgiving

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As many organizations are preparing to provide meals for those in need during this year’s Thanksgiving, they are having to be creative about how to do so safely.

“This year, Thanksgiving looks very different for everyone as we know with the COVID-19 outbreak. We have not been able to have any volunteers since March,” says Emily Sims, Chief Engagement Officer at the Center for the Homeless.  

Because of the COVID -19 crisis, this year, the Center for the Homeless in South Bend is providing Thanksgiving meals to its offsite guests via contactless delivery. The center is relying on support from the community to continue to serve those in need

“We are just trying to provide as normal of a holiday as possible for these folks,” says Sims.  

Other organizations, such as Hope Ministries, are also having to work through new pandemic restrictions this holiday season.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to do it this year,” says Steve Matteson, Director of Community Relations at Hope Ministries.

The non-profit has handed out up to 750 meals every thanksgiving for the past 27 years. This year, the number is being bumped up to 950 to hopefully help more people.

“But it is so rewarding, and it’s a great privilege to be able to meet this need. So keep the streak alive even in the midst of COVID and get to serve the community like this - so we feel blessed,” says Matteson.  

Similarly to the Center for the Homeless, Hope Ministries, is currently closed to visitors which includes volunteers. In years past, the Thanksgiving dinner was made in Hope Ministries kitchen, but now they had to think of a new way to keep people safe. The Century Center is stepping in to help by offering its own space as well as a kitchen which are all large enough to allow for social distancing. However, it is essentially a staging zone and only being used for the Thanksgiving meal preparation. As for the volunteers, every delivery driver has to undergo a temperature check before they start making the rounds.

“We have 32 routes, so tomorrow between 10:45 and 12:15, we will have 32 different vehicles swing by the Century Center. We will load them up for the route, and we will temperature check and go through some COVID screening to be sure the people we deliver to our safe,” says Matteson.  

Ginnie Brandt, who utilizes Hope Ministries’ services, says residents are turning to each other to power through this unprecedented time.

“We’re still together and we are a family here at Hope. The people we live with we see as family so, we are going to make the best of it. But it is a hard time for everyone,” says Brandt.   

Volunteer opportunities for Hope Ministries can be found here.

Volunteer opportunities for The Center for the Homeless can be found here.

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