Thanksgiving was bound to change a bit in 2020.

The Friends of the Poor kicked off its 44th annual Thanksgiving Community Program during a news conference this week at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple. Because of COVID-19, the three November events that make up the program will look different than in previous years, organizers said.

The Interfaith Prayer Service will be held virtually on Zoom at 7 p.m. Nov. 20. The Nov. 24 dinner, first organized by the late Sister Adrian Barrett, I.H.M., in 1976, will be set up for take-out meals instead of a sit-down meal. The Family to Family food basket giveaway will be held Nov. 25 at Scranton High School instead of the Scranton Cultural Center.

“We may lose the music, the conversation and laughter of our guests, but we’ll never lose the sense of wonder and amazement at what our community is capable of when we come together to do something bigger than ourselves,” said Meghan Loftus, president and CEO of the Friends of the Poor.

The take-out meals can be picked up between 3 and 6 p.m. Nov. 24 outside of the Scranton Cultural Center. They will also provide meals to those who were bussed to the dinner in previous years through a partnership with the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging and Meals of Wheels of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

For the sixth year, Linda Robeson, her son Ryan Robeson and daughter-in-law Mary Christine Robeson will host the Family to Family program. From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 25, volunteers will put groceries into the trunks for those who need it, much like how the organization’s COVID-19 food distributions have worked since the pandemic began.

“Scranton has always been very generous community, one that takes care of its neighbors to care for the poor, and embraces the Christ-like love we are called to have for our brothers and sisters,” Ryan Robeson said. “This year, however, it should be especially emphasized.”

Since March 18, Friends of the Poor served 85,000 people through food giveaways and they expect to serve more than 3,000 families at this year’s Thanksgiving distribution.

To donate, call the Friends of the poor office at 570-340-6086, email or send donations to Friends of the Poor, Thanksgiving Community Dinner, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, Pa. 18509.

Donations can be sent to the Family to Family Program, PO Box 13, Scranton, Pa 18501, or by texting “thanks” to 570-525-5956. A $30 donation sponsors a family of four.

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9100 ext. 5187