Charities work around restrictions to serve Thanksgiving dinner

·2 min read
Michelle Porter is the CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, an organization she co-founded with her husband. (Michelle Porter - image credit)
Michelle Porter is the CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, an organization she co-founded with her husband. (Michelle Porter - image credit)

Pandemic restrictions mean that Nova Scotia organizations like the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission have had to be creative around Thanksgiving for a second straight year.

The indoor gathering limit in the province is 25 people this Thanksgiving compared to the gathering limit of 10 last year.

Souls Harbour in Halifax serves people who are living in poverty or without a home and provides a place to eat, sleep and to get clothing.

CEO Michelle Porter said, like last year, it will serve Thanksgiving meals "out of the door" on Monday to about 300 people at the Cunard Street location.

Porter said conforming to the restrictions takes away some of the celebration of the holiday.

Michelle Porter
Michelle Porter

"One of the big things that helps us gain empathy for people where they're at is to be able to interact with our guests and to be able to share a meal with them," she said.

"You can imagine if you were having a Thanksgiving dinner and you had to stand up on a street and eat it versus sitting around with your family and friends, joking and laughing, and that's how it impacts our guests."

Thanksgiving is a time to "count your blessings" and one of those blessings is being part of a community, Porter said.

Porter said guests will be provided with a take home "blessing bag" over and above the meal.

Michelle Porter
Michelle Porter

The bags will include items like warm socks, a face mask, a toothbrush, hand sanitizer and a candy bar.

The takeaway Thanksgiving meals and "blessing bags" were also handed out at the mission's Thanksgiving event in Truro on Friday.

Porter said the pandemic has created challenges for many charities — the cost of groceries has increased and the number of meals they serve has tripled — but it is still important to make the effort on occasions like Thanksgiving.

She said the mission's chef said this year's Thanksgiving meal will be the most traditional he's ever done and she's hoping people appreciate the down home feel even if they have to eat it wherever they're living.

Porter said this Thanksgiving the mission will also be serving a meal to a small group now living at its new life recovery shelter.

The shelter, which opened this week, houses 10 men who are there for emergency shelter or to work on personal recovery.

"I love feeding people. But when you work with them, one on one like that, you see a transformed life like you've never known in the past," Porter said.

"It's an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter with men in the margins."

The Salvation Army men's shelter in Halifax said it will be limiting its Thanksgiving meal and observances this year to residents only.

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