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Thanksgiving at Vancouver's UGM scaled back for safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Oct 7, 2020 at 5:57 am PDT

FILE - A turkey dinner is served up by volunteers at the UGM. (Courtesy Twitter/Union Gospel Mission)

UGM volunteer numbers reduced for safety amid COVID-19 pandemic at annual DTES Thanksgiving

’There’s not a lot of hope right now,’ says UGM ahead of annual Thanksgiving gathering

Far fewer Thanksgiving meals for homeless and those in need planned during COVID-19 at UGM

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — We are all being asked to have fewer people around the table this Thanksgiving, and the same is true of the Union Gospel Mission at its annual gathering and feast for those in need.

The UGM regularly serves around 3,000 meals on Thanksgiving, providing sustenance for the belly but also for the soul, says spokesperson Nicole Mucci.

“There’s not a lot of hope right now, people feel scared. Thanksgiving helps remind us that hope is on the horizon,” she says.

However, COVID-19 restrictions and precautions mean only a skeleton crew of staff will be handing out the turkey and fixings, and fewer meals will be shared with the community.

“We actually have greatly decreased the number of volunteers we are able to bring into the building during our Thanksgiving meal. We will be doing our very best to make things special,” she says.

In order to keep people safe and be able to “spread hope” this weekend, the UGM will be deep cleaning, sanitizing and following all health authority recommendations and staff will be wearing personal protective equipment.

Mucci says the distribution of meals will also be spread out throughout the day.

While dedicated volunteers may feel disappointed they cannot be a part of giving back through the annual meal, you can always make a donation on the UGM’s website.

Mucci says demand for food, shelter and assistance has spiked in the last seven months and points out more than three times as many emergency food hampers have gone out in 2020 than in a normal year.

“While fewer Thanksgiving meals are being provided this year than previously, we’ve really stepped up in other ways to connect and help our community,” she says, adding the work is necessary to fill the gaps left by organizations that have also scaled back or shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.