BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Every Thanksgiving hundreds of people come to the Salvation Army in Birmingham for a warm meal, and to connect.
This year getting food to those in need is even more necessary, and more complicated.
“We have new norms we work by these days,” says Major Charles Powell. He is the Area Commander for greater Birmingham Salvation Army. “We won’t be doing an open community feeding as much as I would love to. We are working on how we can still provide a thanksgiving meal to people who normally come to us.”
The Thanksgiving lunch is a tradition that goes beyond food, it’s a way for the community to connect.
“That meal does more than just feed the homeless. There’s a lot of people in our community who really don’t have a whole lot of social interaction with other people and they look forward to this Thanksgiving meal because it provides an opportunity to sit down with other people and eat a meal together that they don’t' get to do a whole lot during the normal course of the year. Its unfortunate that the pandemic is making that very difficult,” says Maj. Powell.
The Salvation Army is still working on their plans for Thanksgiving week, but they will be distributing boxes of food the week before, like they have every week since March.
They are still looking for food donations, and volunteers to help. You can find out how to help here
“We are giving it away far faster than it’s coming in. at this point we are buying by far most of the food that we need to make that work every week so we would welcome any donation of food,” explains Maj. Powell.
The Salvation Army will still run their Angel Tree program this holiday season as well, and are also working on contingency plans for coronavirus if necessary.
“Normally distribution is done in a large warehouse with a couple of hundred volunteers and families coming in and out so with the pandemic we are revieing that very carefully to see if we are going to do that or come up with a new means of distribution,” says Maj. Powell.
The Jimmie Hale Mission also making changes to their thanksgiving delivery program, making sure volunteers who prepare and distribute the meals are safe and following pandemic protocols.
“We are having to be creative in our approach this holiday season, but we are doing everything in our power to ensure those in need are still provided with a hot and hearty Thanksgiving meal while still keeping our volunteers, clients, and staff as safe as possible in the process,” says Ryan Bartels of Jimmie Hale Mission.
Holiday meals will still be provided however to all clients at all three facilities for both lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving Day.