Cincinnati’s Fall Feast hit the road Thursday, trading in a packed Duke Energy Convention Center — where poor Cincinnatians typically gather by the thousands to eat a free turkey dinner — for a fleet of volunteers delivering Thanksgiving meals throughout the city.
It’s a big change, Fall Feast chair Cendi Kegley acknowledged Thursday. It took planning, pivoting and outreach. But the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the need for acts of charity like this one.
“It’s pretty amazing they were able to pull this off and get this organized,” she said Thursday afternoon.
Kegley said she expected volunteers to deliver around 6,000 meals to homeless shelters, transitional living centers and senior living homes throughout the day.
Others will go to partner organizations such as the Over-the-Rhine soup kitchen Our Daily Bread and community advocacy organization City Gospel Mission in Queensgate. Both would normally be closed on Thanksgiving, according to Kegley, but opted to stay open for 2020 and serve customers in their own neighborhoods.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make sure that they’re getting the care they need as well as a warm Thanksgiving dinner,” said Michael Elliot, vice president of programs at Give Back Cincinnati.
And more than dinner, too. Fall Feast volunteers also delivered coupons for free coats and bags of personal care items, trying to extend a helping hand to neighbors in need.
Fall Feast co-founder Charlie Hall said he believes the pandemic has created a stronger-than-ever sense of gratitude for the holiday season.
“I think there’s a lot more natural thankfulness and blessings that we have,” Hall said. “It’s a really tough time of the year for a lot of people.”