BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Just before lunchtime on Thursday, the line was stretched around St. Vincent de Paul as many folks stood shoulder to shoulder and one behind the other eager to get a warm Thanksgiving meal.
For years, the dining room has been jampacked with folks getting fed and filling up on the holiday spirit but this year, it goes without saying, things are different. COVID-19 has transformed the process, turning the dining room into an assembly line and the meal into a to-go format but virus or not— the mission remains the same.
“The need is there on a daily basis and today being Thanksgiving, there’s some families who would not have been able to have a Thanksgiving meal and this stands in place of what they would not be able to get,” said one organizer, Debra Blacher.
Organizers were on-site even earlier this year to make sure everything was boxed up and ready to roll. Blacher says it has been a challenge trying to work around a pandemic to meet so much need with fewer volunteers.
“You don’t have the same comradery that you would have on a normal basis and if we can fill that void, St. Vincent de Paul is more than happy to do so,” said Blacher. “This is what we do. We help.”
Brandon Myles has been volunteering with the group for 13 years. It was a family tradition he shared with his mom which takes on more meaning now after she passed away last year.
“It really puts in perspective how real it is for you to do something and really give back and help people and kind of be on the front lines of the stuff that makes it easier,” said Myles.
While the pandemic has taken so much away from everyone this year, he believes it has also helped folks cherish each moment and focus on what’s important.
“You know, being in this time that I can get up and go to work every day, I can have a job and that I can function and I’m not in the hospital on a ventilator or that I’m not dealing with burying loved ones left and right like I’m seeing some of my friends and even family are.. It just makes me feel a whole lot better to be where I am,” said Myles.
It’s the things we so often taken for granted he says are truly worth being thankful for this holiday season.
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