Pine Street Inn is finding a way to feed Boston’s homeless this Thanksgiving, but the coronavirus pandemic made the meal look and feel different.
For the first time in 50 years, volunteers were not allowed to help serve the meal due to protocols for the virus. Usually the shelter has roughly 200 volunteers help make Thanksgiving happen.
“We don’t want our volunteers to get sick either so we made the decision not to have volunteers at Thanksgiving and I have to tell you it was a heartbreaking decision,” Lyndia Downie, the executive director and president of the Pine Street Inn said.
Even though the shelter has not had the help of volunteers since March, they still made a Thanksgiving meal with all of the fixings. More than 120 turkeys, 1000 pounds of potatoes and 70 gallons of gravy were prepared. Tables were spread out for social distancing.
The tradition of having city officials carve the turkeys still went on despite the pandemic, but the shelter had to bring the turkeys outside.
“It’s different because we like to go inside. We like to talk to guests. We like to go around and ask how people are doing,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.
Walsh joined Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and other dignitaries who said the dinner highlights the kindness that persists even during a pandemic.
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“Seeing people put their own personal health aside and seeing these acts of courage from the beginning of pandemic whether it’s a grocery store clerk, police officer, firefighter, EMS or a staff person here at the Pine Street Inn,” Walsh said.
Guests like Michael Pina said they were especially grateful given how tough the year has been.
“I am thankful for God, Thanksgiving and the turkeys,” Pina said.