COVID-19 impacting charities’ Thanksgiving meals

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The holidays will look different for most of us this year.

In the past, local charities have used the next few days to prepare hot meals for families in need on Thanksgiving, but because of COVID-19, these groups are being forced to break tradition.

This year instead of chefs preparing Thanksgiving dinner at the Greensboro Coliseum for thousands of families, small groups of volunteers with A Simple Gesture are working in shifts to pack and deliver holiday boxes filled with canned and dry goods.

“We usually have a huge Thanksgiving meal where we work with local chefs to prepare 5 to 10 thousand meals that we distribute throughout the community, but this year for Thanksgiving we couldn’t have that many people cooking in the same kitchen and use that many volunteers in that small space,” said Leslie Isakoff, with A Simple Gesture.

It’s one of many holiday changes happening at charities across the Triad amidst COVID-19 restrictions.

Normally Thanksgiving dinner offers a warm meal and a sense of community at Open Door Ministries in High Point, but as a safety precaution, they are restricting who is welcome inside and handing out to-go meals.

“This year we can’t have volunteers in the building so it’s just our staff that will be serving in the parking lot, so we are trying to make it as pleasant as possible it’s just going to be an interesting time,” said Ryan Ross, with Open Door Ministries.

Isakoff says at A Simple Gesture they are serving about five times as many families since the pandemic started.

“This year it’s been kind of a punch in the gut to see so many families that never thought they would be vulnerable to hunger that are,” Isakoff said.

She’s grateful this holiday season she’s in a position to help.

“As a parent I want to be able to feed my children and just enjoy that holiday, so knowing we are able to give other parents that opportunity to sit down and really enjoy the time they have together and not worry about something as simple as feeding them, that’s an amazing feeling,” Isakoff said.

A Simple Gesture works with schools in Guilford County to distribute food.

Open Door Ministries is handing out meals in their parking lot on Thanksgiving from 2 to 3:30 p.m., or until they run out. You can visit them at 400 N. Centennial St. in High Point.

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