Mid-Michigan charities battle greater Thanksgiving need, challenges during pandemic

Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 11:01 PM EST
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PINCONNING, Mich. (WJRT) (11/22/2020)-Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the need is greater than ever this Thanksgiving.

With more and more families turning to food pantries, closures and cancellations aren’t making it easy to get that help to the most vulnerable.

A well-oiled machine cranked along in the center of a Pinconning parking lot Sunday. Manned by dozens of volunteers, each plugging away inside, the group turned turkey and trimmings into a Thanksgiving feast carted curbside by the carload to a line of families in need idling outside.

Moments Charity planned to distribute more than 400 such meals throughout the day.

“We started cooking the meals very early in the morning and they’re continually cooking,” Kirk Lytwyn of Essence Provisioning Center, the giveaway’s organizer and co-sponsor. “It’s wave after wave after wave.”

“The food drive has actually been really helpful for me this past month.”

ABC12 caught volunteers stowing bags of goodies inside an SUV parked in front of the Knights of Columbus Hall. It marked the first time passenger Olivia had to ask for help.

“COVID kind of hit us at a bad time,” she related. “[I’m on] unemployment right now.”

In excess of 2.3-million Michigan residents have relied upon unemployment benefits at least to some extent since March, according to the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

“There are just more and more people in need and it seems,” Cookie Bumgarner, one of the event’s organizers related. “There’s never enough food.”

The need has arguably never been greater and yet, resources are sparse. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan tracks various charities; its website showed dozens of organizations sidelined by restrictions and keeping their pantries closed amid the pandemic.

“Veterans and active duty military get a free Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately due to COVID, we just couldn’t do it this year.”

Judy Adams operates the ‘I support the 1% Veteran Food Pantry’ out of two rooms inside an H.W. Browne Airport hangar. One of the pantry’s flagship events--Veteran’s Feastgiving in Frankenmuth--had to be scrapped this year.

“A lot of our veterans have no family support,” Adams related. “They want to have something special in their lives and this year has been horrible.”

Volunteers with Moments Charity went door to door earlier Sunday catering to local seniors ahead of the organization’s food giveaway. Each and every turkey dinner makes a dent in the number of people who would otherwise go without.

“The beauty of it is it’s not just the people that are coming out,” Lytwyn explained. “It’s local businesses that are grouping together to assist us.”

Several other events remain on the schedule this week. For times and details, consult the links listed below.

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan

I Support the 1% Veteran Food Pantry

Food Pantries

Feeding America

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