Nearly 40 volunteers gathered in the kitchen of Good Neighbor Settlement House on Thanksgiving morning to prepare a meal for community members who otherwise would not be able to celebrate the holiday.
Organizer Marie Vidos said that the free Thanksgiving meal has been tradition for 10-15 years. This Thanksgiving is Vidos’ fifth year leading the event, hosted by the International Christian Center.
“We started doing this around five years ago because I got really depressed one Thanksgiving morning because all of my kids were gone. My husband said, ‘Well why don’t you just go downtown and feed your babies?’”
Vidos serves as administrator for Love Brownsville, which provides the Thanksgiving meal with the help of volunteers and donations. The coalition also serves a hot meal every Saturday.
“I love my people down here,” she says. “They call me mom and I love to serve them. And it wouldn’t be possible without these people.”
Volunteers expected to serve nearly 300 homeless community members and welcomed anyone inside who wanted to celebrate.
Just before noon, the cooks were still in the process of frying and carving 30 turkeys. Workers also prepared trays full of pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and more.
One volunteer named Fatima said that the eight people responsible for frying the turkeys had been cooking for hours.
“They woke up around 5 a.m. this morning to start preparing everything, to get things cleaned up,” she said.
Love Brownsville is also collecting donations for their Christmas events, including gifts that they’ll be distributing to the community’s homeless residents.
“We could use paper goods, Christmas gifts, stuff for the cold weather,” she said. “We’ll be distributing jackets and beanies, giving socks and gloves, things like that.”
By noon, the small kitchen was packed with visitors as volunteers began to serve plates.
“It’s just beautiful what these volunteers do,” said Vidos.