Thanksgiving community meal unites people through food, gratitude

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Many people are relaxing after a thanksgiving meal with family and friends. In Glens Falls, one organization cooked up a hot meal for those who may not have a place to go or family with whom to share the table.

Open Door Mission expected to serve about 150 meals after their pandemic year last year. They say they’ve grown during COVID-19, and so has the need in the community.

“The food is awesome, great and the people here are so nice and comfortable to be around,” said one woman enjoying her meal.

Volunteers and staff served up turkey meals for guests in the shelter and anyone who needed it. Strangers quickly turned to friends at the dinner table.

“People need to know that even if they don’t have family that they can come to, they have a place to go,” said another woman dining at Open Door, explaining that she doesn’t have a place to call home right now.

Last year, Open Door could only serve a to-go meal because of the pandemic. President and CEO Kim Cook says it’s important to sit down together for meals once again. Open Door kept COVID-19 safety in mind, asking guests to wear masks when not eating and putting Plexiglas between seats.

“I walk through this foyer sometimes and hear the voices in there and the laughter and it just feels like the heart came back into our home,” Cook said.

Open Door is expanding to meet the growing need of people in Glens Falls. They’re expanding their shelter from 18 beds to 60 next year. During the pandemic, use of their food pantry jumped 250%. Right now they serve about 1,600 meals a month.

“Serving others is a form of thankfulness. And I’m thankful for so much in my life and that comes out by serving our guests and residents and just loving them,” Cook said.

Thursday, 16 volunteers gave their evenings to serve some 17 turkeys cooked for the community.

“We’re happy to be here. We’re very blessed, very lucky to live in a country where there is so much food available. And some people can’t afford it, and we’re here, and we’re happy to help,” said volunteer Stephen Butler.

“Even if you have a hungry belly, the most important thing is to not have a hungry heart,” said one guest.