The presence of COVID-19 in our communities begs for creative problem-solving, particularly with the holidays approaching.
Last November, volunteers in Chamberlain, South Dakota, were working on putting together an annual community Thanksgiving dinner. This year, with the pandemic surrounding us, that wasn’t going to work.
So what do you do?
Well, Sanford Chamberlain and other local donors and volunteers decided to take Thanksgiving to the people. That is, prepare and give away approximately 100 Thanksgiving meal kits for families.
“A few of us at the hospital were brainstorming about a month ago about ways we could help fill that gap,” said Erica Peterson, Sanford Chamberlain senior director.
“Obviously, there is a need to support people who may need it during these times. We know our local food bank has been hit hard and we wanted to make sure that we’re able to give folks some joy on Thanksgiving.”
Drive-thru meal kits
With the help of volunteers, Sanford Chamberlain set up a drive-thru during the afternoon of Nov. 19. The meal kit included a frozen turkey and a frozen pie along with customary Thanksgiving side dishes.
The traditional fellowship that accompanies this event in Chamberlain might not have been there, but the spirit of giving was still present.
“Anytime I get to be out and work with people and be social, that’s what I look forward to,” said Jeff Tveit, a volunteer from Thrivent Financial, one of the event’s top sponsors. “Even though it won’t be like it was in the past with one big group working together, we still work with other people and we can do so safely.”
The list of local sponsors on the Chamberlain event’s Facebook page was lengthy. Clearly, the community was all in on its Thanksgiving event. It’s a part of the town’s history that remains unchanged.
“It’s just so nice to be working on something where we’re not thinking about COVID,” Peterson said. “We’re actually engaging in our community. We’re getting to see friendly faces and we’re feeling like we’re able to make a difference for somebody.”
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