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These 4 groups are still feeding people in need this Thanksgiving. Here’s how you can help
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Volunteers work to assemble plates of food during the Latin American Missionary Program Ministries' annual Thanksgiving dinner at Triunfantes De Jesucristo Church in Gainesville, on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

Although some seats may have to be left empty this Thanksgiving, local groups and organizations are making sure tables are full of food for families in need. 

Because of the pandemic, several Thanksgiving community efforts in Hall County have gotten creative with their approach to limit the spread of COVID-19, opting instead for drive-thru meal service, pickup or delivery. 

“We want to make sure in a small way we can help somebody during these trying times,” said Mary Mauricio, executive director of Latin American Missionary Program Ministries in Gainesville. “We’re working together with the community to bring some kind of relief.” 

Whether people need a meal this Thanksgiving or want to donate their time or money to a good cause, check out these four community meal opportunities coming to Hall County in November.  

LAMP Ministries’ 20th Annual Thanksgiving Meal 

What: Drive-thru free Thanksgiving meals to those in need 

When: 11:30 a.m. until the food is gone, Saturday, Nov. 21 

Where: 794 Jesse Jewell Parkway, in the parking lot next to Triufantes De Jesucristo Church in Gainesville 

To volunteer: Email Mary Mauricio at lampministries@gmail.com 

To donate: Send money to P.O. Box 5637, Gainesville, GA 30504 or through PayPal 

LAMP Ministries’ 20th Annual Thanksgiving Meal 

Instead of people lining up and having volunteers serve them meals face-to-face, Mauricio said LAMP Ministeries’ free Thanksgiving meal service will transform into a drive-thru event.  

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, families can receive free Thanksgiving dinners by pulling into 794 Jesse Jewell Parkway, in the parking lot next to Triufantes De Jesucristo Church in Gainesville. Volunteers will simply place meals into the trunks of vehicles as they move through the line.  

Mauricio said the community event will last until the organization runs out of plates. She hopes to serve 500-600 people in need. The plates will include turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, desserts and a drink. 

“It (the Thanksgiving event) has changed drastically,” Mauricio said. “From the calls we get, we know there’s a need. Everybody is afraid right now, and a lot of people are without a job.” 

Those interested in volunteering can email Mauricio at lampministries@gmail.com. People can mail monetary donations to P.O. Box 5637, Gainesville, GA 30504 or send them through PayPal. 

Thanksgiving in a Box 

What: Thanksgiving meal boxes for families in need 

When: Packing of boxes begins at 8 a.m. 

Where: Cherokee Bluff Park’s pavilion, 5867 Black Jack Road, Flowery Branch 

To volunteer: Email Heather Meyer at heather@utbministries.org 

To donate: Visit the ministry’s Facebook page and click on the post with the Square app logo 

Thanksgiving in a Box 

Under the Bridge Ministries, a ministry made up of various local churches, is gearing up for its annual Thanksgiving in a Box this November.  

Heather Meyer, executive director of the ministry, said her group is aiming to double the amount of people they serve by preparing 1,000 boxes this year. Each package contains enough food to feed six people. Boxes include frozen turkey breast, green bean casserole, corn, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and dinner rolls. 

Meyer said Thanksgiving in a Box operates in “good faith,” trusting that the people they help need the food they are receiving. The community meal primarily targets those in Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Dahlonega.  

While most of the boxes will be sent to the Gainesville Housing Authority, 300-400 boxes will be left at Cherokee Bluff Park pavilion, located at 5867 Black Jack Road in Flowery Branch, for people to pick up. Those who need a meal are asked to send an email to Meyer at heather@utbministries.org by Thursday, Nov. 19. 

The boxing of the meals will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and the distribution will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Those who have signed up for a meal can pick it up from noon to 1 p.m. Meyer said masks are encouraged, but not required. 

To volunteer, email Meyer at heather@utbministries.org. Meyer said she still needs $7,000 to purchase the rest of the food for Thanksgiving in a Box. Donations can be made by visiting Under the Bridge Ministries’ Facebook page and clicking on the post with the Square app logo

Good News at Noon’s Thanksgiving Community Meal 

What: Sit down meal at local shelter 

When: Noon to 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving  

Where: Good News Shelter, 979 Davis St., Gainesville 

To donate: goodnewsatnoon.org 

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A man waits for volunteer server Jeanette Platt, right, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, during the Good News at Noon annual Thanksgiving Day meal service. - photo by Scott Rogers

Good News at Noon’s Thanksgiving Community Meal 

Each year since 1987, dozens of people have packed into Good News at Noon, a shelter and ministry in Gainesville, for a Thanksgiving meal.  

Ken Gossage, the shelter’s director, said despite the pandemic, the gathering will still take place from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26. So far, Gossage said none of Good News at Noon’s volunteers nor its homeless visitors have tested positive for COVID-19. He encourages people, including volunteers, to wear masks, but he said they're not required. 

“We clean all of our surfaces at least three times a day, and we have hand sanitizer,” Gossage said.  

This year, he said, new volunteers are discouraged from lending a hand at the Thanksgiving meal. Gossage said those who have already been volunteering during the rest of the year are expected to lend a hand.  

A majority of those who eat at the event are homeless, but Gossage welcomes those needing a warm meal on Thanksgiving Day to swing by. The menu will include turkey, dressing, green beans and other fixings. 

“People can sit down, and we’ll serve them,” he said.  

To donate to the Thanksgiving community meal, visit goodnewsatnoon.org.  

M&M Down Home Catering’s Thanksgiving Day Community Feed 

What: Scaled down version of the annual event with deliveries to local charity organizations 

When: Thursday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving 

To donate: Call Martha Randolph at 678-357-8248 

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Left, Angela Middleton and Sylvia McDuffie make sure M&M Down Home Catering’s kitchen is in order for their Thanksgiving Day Community Feed, which takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28.

M&M Down Home Catering’s Thanksgiving Day Community Feed 

Each November, Martha Randolph, who owns M&M Down Home Catering in Gainesville, usually rounds up a group of community members to prepare Thanksgiving meals for people in Hall.  

This year, she said her team is scaling back the event and plans to serve 300. Last year, she said the event fed around 2,000 people in need with both on-site pickups and deliveries. 

“It’s not going to be like it has normally been because of the virus,” Randolph said. “We don’t want to send workers in the field, so we cut it down.” 

Instead of inviting 40 volunteers and hundreds of people to gather for the event, she said her small group of community volunteers plan to take the packed meals to local nonprofits like the Salvation Army, My Sister’s Place and Gateway Domestic Violence Center. They also intend to feed senior citizen residents at Myrtle Terrace apartments in Gainesville. 

“Hopefully next year we’ll be able to go back to the original plan,” Randolph said. “Right now, it’s too dangerous.” 

Randolph said she is still in need of both food and monetary donations for the community meals. To help, contact Randolph at 678-357-8248. 

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