With the holidays approaching and the pandemic showing no sign of mitigating, local providers say the hungry and the homeless will continue to be served.
Capital Region residents have been taking part in the annual Equinox Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner since 1969.
Christina Rajotte, Director of Development & Marketing at Equinox, says 2020 will be no exception.
"Although it will certainly look different compared to other years due to COVID, instead of gathering together in large crowds of over three to four thousand volunteers at the Empire State Plaza as we typically would, this year we decided because of COVID, it's not safe for us to be gathered like that."
So Rajotte and her team went the fundraising route to ensure the 51st Equinox Thanksgiving dinner can proceed.
"We decided to raise over $100,000 to help us pay for meals that we would work with local restaurants for. So our local restaurants have been struggling due to COVID. So we said why don't we give back to these restaurants. Many of these restaurants have supported the annual Equinox Thanksgiving dinner by donating some products for us to use when we prep the dinner down at the plaza. So we thought you know, they've been so supportive of us in the past, we want to be supportive of them and their workers, their employees, and the employees families, so they've had to be laid off. So we will be purchasing meals from about fifteen different restaurants. Partner restaurants."
Rajotte says all meals will be delivered: recipients will be given a timeframe on when. The driver will leave the meal on the front step, then sit in the car after they ring the doorbell just to make sure the recipient picks it up.
"Now for those that may have received meals as part of the sit-down dinner at the local church, First Presbyterian Church, we will be reaching out to those folks that through different means, whether phone calls for those that we may have connections with through the church themselves, so they can call our annual Thanksgiving hotline to request a meal if they can. We also reaching out because we know that some of the recipients that did enjoy meal at the church for the camaraderie, maybe some of our homeless neighbors in the nearby parks are areas around the First Presbyterian Church. So we are finding other alternatives to serve meals."
Rajotte says so far money has been raised to purchase more than 10,000 meals.
"If people are in need of a meal or they're interested in being a volunteer delivery driver that can call our Thanksgiving hotline at 518-434-0131."
Perry Jones heads Albany's Capital City Rescue Mission, which in addition to providing shelter, serves holiday meals to thousands. Jones says throughout the pandemic, the Mission has continued its work, observing mask-wearing and social distancing protocols, even when daily meals are served at the facility.
"They're separated by sitting at tables, as much as they wanna be separated. You have to say to yourself now, there's always times when people can't always follow that distancing, even if they're just passing by somebody, you know what I mean? They can have their mask on and everything, but I'm just saying you have to make allowances and try to make it all work, cause you're balancing an act of, you having people there. But we have not had, in the shelter program here, we have not had one verified virus case at the site."
Jones says the shelter at 259 South Pearl Street is always open.