coronavirus concerns

Pandemic Forces Changes to Thanksgiving Traditions

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Restaurants are scaling back or canceling their free holiday meals, while some organizations are switching up their plan to make sure everyone stays safe.

“It wasn’t a whether we’re going to do it or not it was how are we going to do it,” said Major Migdalia Lavenbein, The Salvation Army.

Lavenbein says The Salvation Army had safety in mind as it planned how to deliver Thanksgiving meals to more than 700 seniors in the Greater Hartford area.

“We want to make sure we take care of people especially in the midst of this pandemic. We know that people are going to be alone. People aren’t going to be able to visit with their loved ones,” said Lavenbein.

This year no longer will volunteers pack up the meals.

And they will be delivered in a drop and go manner, meaning volunteers won’t be able to spend time sitting down and talking with seniors.

“That’s really difficult for some of our volunteers. That’s difficult for the seniors that will be receiving it,” said Lavenbein.

 In New Haven, Christopher Martins has canceled its free Thanksgiving meal service for the first time in three decades.

“It’s a wonderful day. But it’s very sad. We’re going to miss it. There’s no place we’d rather be,” said Chris Vigilante, owner of Christopher Martins.

Vigilante explained they usually provide a sit-down meal to upwards of 600 people in need, as well as clothes.

But social distancing guidelines just made it too difficult to pull off this year.

“We have almost 75 people that volunteer on two shifts in a small restaurant. We felt that we would be putting not only our volunteers but all our guests at risk,” said Vigilante.

Christopher Martins hopes to resume the event next year.

This as the restaurant and so many others continue to deal with challenges during the pandemic.

“We all have to stand up and take care of our neighbors. If we have it to give, we should take care of one another,” said Lavenbein.

The Salvation Army will also provide meals on Christmas.

It relies on donations, volunteers, as well as community organizations to help make it happen.

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