Together…at a safe distance: What Thanksgiving looks like for the homeless population

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With the Coronavirus pandemic still raging, local homeless shelters and programs are celebrating Thanksgiving a little differently this year.

They’re spending the season of togetherness…at a safe distance.

Homeless shelters and soup kitchens often serve enormous feasts at Thanksgiving. Now, with residents wedged family-style at circular tables, the Good Shepherd Center’s Jane Birnbach has a new plan for this year’s meal.

“We used to really enjoy our guests eating together. You know, you become family. We used to invite our volunteers who were serving dinner to come sit with our guests. As they were done serving them to come sit down and have a meal with them…that’s not possible now.”

As for the Salvation Army, they’re keeping staff and residents safe by keeping two to a table, not using volunteers, and serving Thanksgiving dinner take out.

“Unfortunately this year, we’re going to have meals that are take out meals,” says Mark Craddock with the Salvation Army. “We’ll serve here at our normal soup line at 6 o’clock, in the evening. Our residents will have Thanksgiving dinner inside the shelter, and then our normal soup line we’ll serve at 6 o’clock we’ll serve out the back door on trays for whoever’d like to come eat.”

And churches like First Baptist Wilmington plan on serving dinner Tuesday, forming assembly lines of volunteers to feed the homeless outdoors.

“Covid means we can’t bring people in, ” says Gary Harris, Feed the Homeless Ministry’s leader. “And so we still serve on Tuesday night, but we have five people stay in the kitchen and cook it, and then we bring it out here and have about six people plate it up here, and then we take it up top and then another group serves it out on Market Street.”

Though this Thanksgiving won’t be quite the same, residents say they’re thankful it’s still happening. It’ll be a time to eat, reflect, and be together…at a safe distance.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News, Top Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *