GALION — Thanksgiving celebrations might look a bit different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several churches in the Galion area are planning to provide meals for local residents this week and on Thanksgiving weekend.
First United Church of Christ is offering a carryout meal on Thursday of this week. Rev. Darrin Harvey said the meal will be served from 5 to 6 p.m. The church is located at 248 Harding Way West, Galion.
“We usually do an in-person meal,” Harvey said. “We call it a harvest dinner because it usually happens about a week and a half before Thanksgiving. It’s just a tradition at our church that 10 or 11 days before Thanksgiving on that Sunday we have the harvest dinner after our morning worship service. When I came here six years ago, I suggested opening that meal to the public, so then we had about 30 or 40 more people that came in for it. Our youth usually deliver carryout meals to elderly people.”
Harvey said First United Church of Christ has been hosting monthly community breakfasts for about eight years and has been offering monthly community dinners on Thursday evenings for about the past two years.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced First United Church of Christ and other churches that offer community meals to adjust how they provide the ministry.
“With the pandemic, we decided to do it as a carryout meal,” Harvey said. “We shut down all of our community dinners for about three months and in June we started doing them as carryout meals with precautions.”
Harvey said people who called ahead to order meals that will be distributed on Thursday can pick them up on the west side of the church, facing the Rite-Aid Pharmacy.
Harvey said serving meals to people is just one way of helping the community in a positive fashion during a difficult time for so many people.
“One of the things about this pandemic is we have to more consciously get out there and make more of an effort to reach people,” he said. “At first, we didn’t think (the pandemic) would last too long. It would be a few months and then we’d be back to normal. Well, that’s not the case. But it’s worked out well because we’ve been able to serve about the same number of people as we did when we were holding meals inside the church before the pandemic started.”
First Lutheran Church, located at 127 South Columbus Street, will serve drive-through meals at its campus on Friday, Nov. 27.
The City of Galion will not be receiving a donation of turkeys to distribute to the community this year, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page last Friday. The post read, “We will not be receiving a donation of turkeys this year to give out to residents. If your family is in need of help with a meal this month, several area churches will hold free carryout or drive-thru meals, as well as food pantries.”
During his Facebook Live broadcast on Monday evening, Galion Mayor Tom O’Leary explained that the annual turkey donation is provided by the Bureau of Workers Compensation. O’Leary said BWC is donating $10 gift cards to its clients this year instead of turkeys, so, in turn, the city decided to donate the gift cards to local ministries that are providing meals during the holidays.
The cards were distributed to Grace Point, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Peace Lutheran Church, First Lutheran Church, and St. Vincent de Paul.
“We thought that was the best way to get that accomplished,” O’Leary said. “What they’ll do is take those cards and use those to buy the supplies for the meals that they’ll have in whatever form or fashion.”
According to information posted on the City of Galion’s Facebook page last Friday, two other churches in the community will be providing meals for Thanksgiving. Grace Point, located at 683 Portland Way North, will offer meal delivery on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26.
O’Leary said he hopes that the turkey donations will resume in 2021.
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