Veterans Coming Home Center serves free Thanksgiving meal to homeless community

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 8:51 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Veterans Coming Home Center offered a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless community.

People entering the building received temperature checks before heading to a socially-distanced line. Manager of the Veterans Coming Home Center, Chris Rice, says the pandemic has limited how many people the center can serve, not only today but every day.

”I want everybody to truly give thanks for the small things they have because there are a lot of people, especially in 2020, who are experiencing this season who don’t even have those small things,” Rice says.

Rice says this year the food will be less than what the community would have gotten in the past because of COVID-19.

“Thanksgiving can be hard for many people, particularly those who are experiencing homelessness at any given time and so those extra meals bring more joy to their day,” Rice says. “They’re reminded that they are loved and cared for by multiple different groups.”

Some of those who showed up, like Kimberly Morgan, didn’t seem to notice and celebrated with gratitude instead.

“It’s a really good thing because I don’t have anywhere else to go,” Morgan says. “I get to spend it with my fiancée and I’m just thankful for some place to go.”

Rice says the homeless community needs more help this thanksgiving than in years past because of the pandemic.

“When you’re experiencing homelessness, you’re in survival mode pretty much all of the time and so depression, anxiety really weighs heavy on you,” Rice says. “Add pandemic, coronavirus, and it just makes a melting pot of depression and anxiety.”

Others, like Christian Edwards, say the center offers a safe place while living on the streets.

“It’s a good place to be here for thanksgiving because they feed us,” Rice says. “Some homeless people it’s hard for them to find food around here so at least we have somewhere to eat at and hang out.”

Rice says for the bigger meals the center expects about 200 people, which he says is about one third of the homeless community here in Springfield.

“There are lots of people suffering here and homelessness is being expedited,” Rice says. “It’s getting a lot worse instead of better during this time.”

Rice says the pandemic has put a financial burden on the center and it’s struggling to continue to take care of the homeless community that it serves.

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