As the month of giving begins, it’s time once again to shine a spotlight on local organizations and events that feed our underserved communities during the holidays. Thanksgiving can be an especially traumatic time for low-income families, newly sheltered and houseless individuals who simply cannot afford traditional meals served this time of year.
While the city of Bend and surrounding communities are well known for coming together to help with needs like food, shelter, clothing, financial resources, and job assistance – the week of Thanksgiving is a time when the Central Oregon community really steps up to the plate. With financial help from the community, careful planning and volunteer help, organizations in Madras, Sisters, Prineville, Redmond, Bend, La Pine and beyond can serve a special Thanksgiving meal for those who truly need it.
During this holiday week, the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition reports that non-profits will feed over 1,000 people hot meals in our communities. Statistically, these meals are often a starting point for individuals to consider using local resources to help themselves and their families towards a better path.
“The number of meals served has increased in our community and while that may sound like distressing news, there is an aspect of it that is promising. Much of the increase in meals is going to those who have recently become sheltered in the many new shelter options that have become available in the past two years. This means more stability and easier access to regular services like meals, which results in more long-term positive results,” says Donna Burklo, Executive Director for Family Kitchen, a non-profit organization. This year, Family Kitchen will likely serve around 600 meals for Thanksgiving dinner, which is typically how many meals are being served per day out of their building – an average of 4,200 per week.
Serving holiday meals also gives new volunteers the opportunity to give their time, use different skills and connect with the community in a new way. Program and Event Coordinators for feeding the community during Thanksgiving report that as many as 50-100 volunteers come on board to help prep, cook, serve, and clean up.
“Serving alongside family, friends, and strangers is a beautiful way to observe a holiday set aside for giving thanks. There is something about being in community with a wider gathering of our neighbors serving and sharing a common meal that is quite impactful. Many who serve for the first time on a Thanksgiving Day find themselves signing up as regular volunteers year 'round,” explains Burklo.
Opportunities to Volunteer
Those Who Serve in Our Community
Family Kitchen serves several hundred meals every day and will continue their tradition of serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal to those in need at their location in Bend. FamilyKitchen.org
Jericho Road (Jericho Table)
Jericho Table, the sub program run by Jericho Road, serves meals to the Redmond community every day and will continue this service during the holidays.
Shepherd’s House Ministries
With generous donations from the community, Sheperd’s House can continue their Thanksgiving tradition of serving a hot, delicious meal to approximately 200 people in need a their location on Division Street. ShepherdsHouseMinistries.org
La Pine American Legion Post 45
The La Pine American Legion has been hosting a Thanksgiving meal to those in need since the early 90’s. From start to finish, several volunteers come together for five days to prepare and serve up to 500 people a hot, Thanksgiving meal. “The best part of this event is having the honor of serving our community and people in need,” says Nancy Mays, American Legion Event Coordinator. Legion.org