Is COVID impacting the ability to serve meals to those in need this holiday?
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - In spite of the COVID surge, the Christmas spirit is not being forgotten.
Northeast Ohio charities are still stepping up to provide meals for those who rely on their generosity.
During this giving season, the St. Augustine Hunger Center located on Howard Avenue and West 14th Street is giving the gifts of Christmas in the form of a hot meal on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, even with the challenges of COVID.
The piping hot, home cooked meals not only hit the spot, but renews hope in the spirit of Christmas for those struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Don Scott is currently staying at a shelter, but has slept in his car and said the St. Augustine Hunger Center’s meals are what Christmas is really all about, “I find myself saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. So, what it means to me is the cheerfulness in my heart. And while I could allow myself to be depressed, the people around me are lifting my spirits. The food was good, they were hospitable, and they invited me back here for Christmas dinner.”
That’s why the staff at St. Augustine is working to make sure no one goes hungry, even with the challenges of COVID and an increasing infection rate.
Renee Hooks, who has worked at the hunger center for over a year, said they will stay open, “We just tell them to put their mask on so they can eat in here. We just recommend to everyone wear their mask because of COVID.”
They also ask guests to stay socially distant when socializing during this pandemic.
Hooks said she’s determined to stay healthy so she can keep helping others, because it’s also a personal mission, “I was once homeless myself, so I was in the same predicament they was in -- and I just thank God. He leads and guides me to do what I do for them. So, they keep my spirits up.”
For mother Dewan Tabor, the staff at St. Augustine are like Christmas lights in the dark. Not only did the staff serve up hot meals to her 10 and 13 year old daughters, they handed the Cleveland woman candy and a bag of toys so her children have something to enjoy on Christmas Day, “It’s nice to know people are out here to help.”
Hooks says, “We all need somebody. We all need that love, we all need to show that compassion for others.”
The St. Augustine Hunger Center staff and volunteers will also be serving Christmas dinner from 11am to 1pm on Christmas Day.
Along with Catholic Charities, city wide will deliver up to $15,000 meals on the holiday - so even those who are homeless or down on their luck can have a holiday.
After enjoying a meal Don Scott said, “It means a great deal to have somewhere you feel safe.”
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