by Ashley Schuler – The Herald News I USA TODAY NETWORK
The holidays are a time of joy. But for those people unsure where their next meal is coming from, or families struggling to put food on the table, it can be a time of great stress.
With that in mind, some local nonprofits, churches and organizations are stepping in to make the holidays a bit brighter and less stressful for folks in Fall River and beyond.
To help ensure a happy Thanksgiving for all, volunteers are getting ready to serve up hundreds of free turkey meals to those in need.
Here are some places across the Fall River area offering free dinners this Thanksgiving:
Salvation Army (Fall River)
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Salvation Army is opening its doors to the public as it hosts its first in-person Thanksgiving soup kitchen meal dinner in three years.
Folks looking for a hot lunch among some friendly faces can head to their 290 Bedford St. location on the day before Thanksgiving — Wednesday, Nov. 23 — for a sit-down turkey meal with all the trimmings starting at 1 p.m.
No sign up is necessary. Michelle Cave, administrative assistant at Salvation Army, said if the last sit-down meal in 2019 is any indication, they are expecting about 80 to 100 guests to visit their gym. But “it’s been a couple of years so we may be quite surprised how many show up,” she added.
Regardless, their dedicated crew of 10 to 12 seasoned volunteers will be ready. They’ll begin cooking turkeys that Monday, and will be on hand that Wednesday to wrap up meal prep and serve.
Participants had been forced to take their hot Thanksgiving meals to-go in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID precautions. Salvation Army’s weekly soup kitchen still operates that way, Cave said, but their goal is to get back to in-person offerings by January.
Cave said she and other volunteers are happy to be able to welcome visitors back in for the holidays once again, and give the community the opportunity to better connect.
“The people who come to use our soup kitchen just enjoy coming in – they can sit, get out of the weather and chat with others,” Cave said.
The communal setting also gives volunteers the chance to check in with folks and see if they can assist them with other needs at the same time.
In addition to the dinner, Cave said they are addressing the increased need for food assistance this year in other ways. About 564 families have signed up for Thanksgiving baskets, which will be distributed next Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s about 100 more requests than they received in 2021.
For more information, visit their website at https:// massachusetts.salvationarmy.org/MA/FallRiver or call 508-679-7900.
Blessed Trinity Parish (Fall River)
Blessed Trinity Parish will be serving a free Community Turkey Dinner to the first 125 people who come through their doors on Thanksgiving Day.
The meal – which consists of a complete turkey dinner with all the fixings – is being provided to help those in the Fall River community who are in need or alone for the holidays. It will be served Thursday, Nov. 24, starting at noon with doors opening at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are not necessary. The parking lot is located behind the church at 1340 Plymouth Ave. For more information, call 508-672-4854.
THRIVE for Humanity (Fall River)
THRIVE for Humanity is hosting a free Thanksgiving Banquet for people for are homeless on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The Club on Pearl Street, located behind the Cultural Center on South Main Street. Attendees will also be given a free hygiene kit while supplies last. For more information, visit 508-812-8641.
Amicable Church (Tiverton)
Tiverton Community Thanksgiving Baskets, including all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner and more, will be distributed at the Tiverton Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 19.
Vouchers are available for any family that would benefit from this donation and can be picked up at the Tiverton library, 34 Roosevelt Ave., on Mondays from noon to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. through Nov. 10.
This event is sponsored by Amicable Church, 3736 Main Road, Tiverton, with the generosity of many businesses, churches and people in the community.
In past drives, the church was able to provide Thanksgiving meals for over 125 families in the Tiverton community, as well as donate any additional food to the Old Stone Food Pantry.
If you would like to contribute to the event with your time, monetary or food donations, email thanksgivingbaskets2022@ gmail.com.
Visit https://www.amicablechurch.org/thanksgiving-baskets-2022 for more information.
St. Theresa and St. Christopher churches (Tiverton)
A Thanksgiving Day Dinner is planned at St. Theresa Church on Thursday, Nov. 24, hosted by the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes.
Guests are welcome to arrive at 11:30 a.m. at St. Theresa’s Parish Hall, 265 Stafford Road, for a free traditional Thanksgiving dinner served at noon.
A collection is being held at both parishes through Nov. 14 to benefit this event, as well as to help fill the Tiverton Community Thanksgiving baskets being distributed at the Tiverton library.
RSVP by Tuesday, Nov. 22, for the dinner by calling 401-683-8460 or 401-624-8746. Visit https://sstandctiverton. org for more information.
Portsmouth United Methodist Church (Portsmouth, R.I.)
Portsmouth United Methodist Church is sponsoring its free annual Thanksgiving Dinner by “drivethrough” pickup at the church between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.
Only 100 meals will be available. Reservations are required by calling 740-277-9424 between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by Nov. 22. When you call, you can select a time to arrive and get a pickup number so that the number of meals packaged and brought to your car will be correct. You may choose the type of pie – pumpkin, apple, blueberry, or pecan – for dessert during the reservation process.
Portsmouth United Methodist Church is located at 2732 East Main Road, Portsmouth, R.I.
To read the entire story, click HERE.