CHICAGO (CBS) — Organizations like the Salvation Army were forced to rethink their plans for Thanksgiving amid this COVID-19 surge.
As CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reported, the organization still served up turkey Thursday – just differently this year.READ MORE: At Least 30 People Wounded In Weekend Gun Violence In Chicago, 5 Killed
The Salvation Army has been holding a Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago for 70 years, and they weren’t about to let the pandemic change their plans. Things may have looked a bit different at the event at the Salvation Army Freedom Center Humboldt Park, but the act of giving remained the same.
“Thanksgiving is a time when if you have nothing, it can be very depressing and really a hard holiday. So we wanted folks to know they were still loved and cared about,” said Major Nancy Powers of the Salvation Army, “and to have a to-go pick up meal was as close as we could come.”
Dozens showed up at the Salvation Army Freedom Center, 825 N. Christiana Ave., for their Thanksgiving feast.
“So you’re still getting all the trimmings, everything that you traditionally would have with the Thanksgiving meal,” Powers said. “You’re going to get in your bag to go.”
Usually, many of them would have been gathered together enjoying warm food, good company, and spirited conversation.
“I feel sad that we can’t sit down with them and actually share the meal at a table,” Powers said.
But in a time in which it has been a while since nay of us have shared a meal with friends, people like Natalie Flores are grateful for a meal at all.
“This hot cooked meal means everything to me right now,” Flores said.
Like so many, Flores lost her job and is trying to keep her family healthy.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Warming Trend Continues, Rain Chances Persist
“Everything is very rough. Everyone is in a struggle,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your career is, what you have on hold in the bank – this right here will show my children that no matter what, mom will go and search for her family and will be providing.”
The 2,000 meals are just a small portion of the giving that the Salvation Army has done this year. It is a role in which they are grateful to be.
“We’re seeing folks that were once donors literally having to come back to us and ask for help,” Powers said. “Just because you’re asking for help doesn’t make you less of a person. It just means that thank goodness we’re here.”
Powers said it is a community effort to get a community meal out. Many came out to volunteer on Thursday, including a group from the Sikh community that donated a $2,500 check to the Salvation Army.
Powers said she is hopeful there will be a COVID-19 vaccine soon so everyone can gather for their annual Christmas meal. But if it does not work out that way, the Salvation Army will still be out giving away meals and toys regardless – and even in the snow.
Chicago’s Catholic Charities also made all its Thanksgiving meals to go this year. There was enough or 300 people, who showed up at their headquarters in River North.
They also got a lot of protective gear to keep COVID away.
“Due to the pandemic, we are giving away an additional bag, and it will have some warm-weather gear, a water bottle, and we’ll also be giving away some PPE, a mask, and various things for sanitation because our guests don’t have anywhere to go except on the street to eat their meal,” said Catholic Charities Volunteer Ralph Metz.
Catholic Charities said a lot of the people they serve do not have easy access to thinks like brand new masks and other personal protective equipment.MORE NEWS: Rep. Danny Davis Holds Virtual Townhall Meeting On Reparations And Bill Awaiting Vote In Congress
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