Scott Macaulay of Melrose, Massachusetts, is getting ready to spend his first Thanksgiving alone. The pandemic has forced him to cancel the dinner he would usually host for those who have nowhere to go, but he is still finding a way to be there for the community.
Macaulay has been hosting a dinner for strangers since 1985, ever since the vacuum repairman found himself with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving. He put an ad in the local paper and people started showing up. Over the years, hundreds have taken him up on his offer.
When the pandemic hit, Macaulay knew he would have to change his plans, but he still wanted to do something.
"Most people figured I was normal and I would just cancel the dinner, but I'm not normal. I'm determined," Macaulay said.
Instead of hosting his usual gathering, Macaulay put together 55 baskets of food for those who can cook Thanksgiving at home. For those unable to do so, he also purchased coupons for takeout Thanksgiving meals at J. Pace & Son in Saugus.
"It's the best I can do, so I'm going to do it," Macaulay said.
Loretta Saint-Louis of Melrose is taking advantage of the coupon. She lives at a nearby retirement community and has said grace at some of Macaulay's dinners in the past. After COVID-19 forced her to cancel on her family this year, she knew exactly who to call.
"He's extraordinarily generous. It's not normal generosity. It's just really touching," Saint-Louis said. "He's found a way for us to all be connected to him even though we are apart."
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Saint-Louis helped write a Thanksgiving prayer that Macaulay is including with the coupons and baskets. Macaulay also asks people to write him a letter and tell him what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
"A lot of them this year are about health or thanking first responders," he said.
Macaulay is encouraging everyone who picks up a meal from him also to pick up the phone and call loved ones. He plans on doing the same after he is done with his meal so he feels less alone.
"I'm going to check on people. I'll ask them, 'Did you get there? How was the dinner?' That will help keep me busy," he said.