BY JOHN E. USALIS
SAINT CLAIR — The tradition will continue this year at Church of the Holy Apostles in the borough as free Thanksgiving dinners will be provided on the holiday.
The hot turkey dinners are an annual project put together by North Parish, which includes Holy Apostles in Saint Clair and St. John Episcopal Church in Ashland.
Due to COVID-19, how the meals are provided has changed to some degree to ensure safety of the volunteers and those who receive the meals.
North Parish Senior Warden Bonnie Baker, of Saint Clair, is an organizer who said it is important to do what can be done to provide a hot holiday meal as a Christian outreach to the community.
“We were not sure what to do, but we talked it over and we think we have it figured out how to do it and keep everybody safe,” Baker said.
She said one important part of the process is to keep the volunteers distanced in the church hall as the meals are packed.
“We’re even limiting the number of people who are going to help,” said Baker, noting how in previous years the hall was filled with volunteers doing different tasks. “We can’t have all those people in there.”
In the past, the meal deliveries left the church hall after 11 a.m. The hall opened at noon for pickups only. Those who wanted to be seated and eat inside could enter the hall starting at 1 p.m.
This year, to ensure social distancing, the drivers will have the meals brought outside to them beginning at 11 a.m.
Pickups will also be done outside at noon. There will be no sit-down meals this year.
“Last year we did close to 300 meals,” Baker said.
She said there will be a staggered schedule for the delivery drivers so not all show up at the same time to pick up meals.
“The drivers can pull up and the workers inside will get the meals ready and carry them out and put them in their trunk,” she said. “For those receiving the delivered meals, we ask that they do not come out when the driver shows up.
“They will set the meals on their porch, or if they’re in the high-rise, set the meals in front of their door.
“We’re just trying to keep everybody safe.”
Those interested in a meal would call the church so the meal preparation can be planned. Last-minute orders have been honored.
“We’ve never turned anyone away,” Baker said. “If someone calls and they need a meal, we’re a church and we’re going to give them a meal.
“Anyone who needs a meal is welcome to a meal.”
All of the food is donated. Monetary donations are also accepted.
Last year, the church prepared 20 whole turkeys, some in the church kitchen and others at people’s homes.
Baker said that deliveries are made in many parts of the county.
“We take all of our leftover food to Schuylkill Women in Crisis,” Baker said.
For more information or to make a dinner request, contact Baker at 570-429-2272.
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