South Florida Organizations Continue Thanksgiving Traditions With Changes in Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many of those events will take place and even put a stop to some - but not all

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Thursday marks the annual Thanksgiving holiday, one that traditionally brings events across South Florida providing residents with everything from food to haircuts as part of giving back.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many of those events will take place and even put a stop to some - but not all.

The Salvation Army of Broward County provided over 500 to-go meals while supplies last to homeless members of the community in a walk-up format. The Miami Rescue Mission and Broward Outreach Center provided Thanksgiving meals, along with haircuts and showers, to those in need as well.

"For the last 45 years, it's always been a tradition to hold what we call the Great Thanksgiving Banquet," said Miami case manager supervisor Alexis Chaviano.

With the pandemic in effect, Chaviano said the group still was able to find a way to continue the event without being able to host the usual 2,000 members of the homeless community as in past years.

"We established tents and are providing the services under the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines on social distancing," he said, adding that workers were required to wear masks and guidelines were in place for showering.

Camillus House celebrated its 60th Annual Thanksgiving Day feast at 10:30 a.m. at their facility in Miami’s health district. The organization has been one of many in the area to have outreach services reduced amid concerns in the pandemic.

Meals on Wheels delivered Thanksgiving meals to senior and elderly residents in South Florida on Thursday, giving more than 600 homebound seniors in the area some much needed food for the holiday.

“Social isolation leads to depression and depression can be as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day," said Mark Adler from Meals on Wheels. "Our clients were already at risk for being depressed and isolated, so now it’s more important than ever for us to be able to do this.” 

For some, it was also about the much needed company.

“Unfortunately my husband passed away. It’ll be a year ago in December," said Gita Lipitz, who was one of those receiving food Thursday. "My daughter is up in Orlando, so you know it’s kind of nice to know that there are people that come out.” 

The Hoffberger family has been volunteering for 15 years and their route included six homes on Thursday.

“You got to teach kids to give back," said Darren Hoffberger. "They are fortunate and, unfortunately, people around us are less fortunate and it’s time to really step up during the holiday season and be selfless and give back.” 

Heather Geronemus is also a long time volunteer and is glad the organization is continuing their tradition during such a difficult year.

“My own grandmothers have been isolated because of COVID and it’s just something that’s so unimaginable," she said. "So, I’ve done the delivery part of this before and just that need for connection is so important this time and every time.” 

To help Meals on Wheels, click here to find out how to contribute.

The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana provided food to more than 150 seniors in Smathers Plaza from until 3 p.m.

The city of North Miami held their 46th annual Thanksgiving day parade on Thursday at 10 a.m., but did so virtually for the first time.

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