Annual Thanksgiving meal deliveries carry on for needy, front-line workers

People decorate their cars as they deliver meals to 1,000 MANNA clients
People decorate their cars as they deliver meals to 1,000 MANNA clients Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio
By and KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — COVID-19 didn’t stop a volunteer-driven effort to deliver Thanksgiving meals to people who are seriously ill across the region.

Hundreds stepped up to deliver meals to 1,000 MANNA clients, or the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance.

In years past, volunteers would get up early to cook meals, package and deliver them. But this year because of the pandemic, volunteers were not permitted in the kitchen to make the food. The meals were prepared in advance.

But many continued their tradition of delivering the food, and the demand was high.

Pick-ups and drop-offs were conducted contactless. Each driver got a list with the addresses of four or five clients.

Volunteers also made it fun by decking out their cars with streamers, balloons and cutouts of turkeys along Benjamin Franklin Parkway — a Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade in its own right.

MANNA’s Thanksgiving food effort is possible not only by all of the volunteers but by its Pie in the Sky fundraiser, which sold out this year.

Sue and Andy Glass’ SUV was no exception.

“We promised we would not disappoint with our vehicle to deliver,” said Sue Glass. “We have balloons, we have decals, we have window chalk … we have stuffed turkeys, we have pilgrim hats, we have aprons.”

“And the main reason is we are delivering food for MANNA today to people who can’t get out of their house,” added Andy Glass.

“We love to be helpful and community-spirited and it’s our goal to remember everyone,” she said.

Front-line workers

Employees at Pennsylvania Hospital were remembered this Thanksgiving, too.

More than 650 meals were delivered to the hospital, an effort spearheaded by local jewelry designer and store owner Steven Singer.

“Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, string beans — everything that you would normally have in a Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie. We’re doing the whole 9 yards for everybody in the hospital,” he said.

He wanted a way to thank workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on a day dedicated to giving and showing thanks.

“We wanted to make sure if anybody is missing Thanksgiving with their family, that especially in this weird quarantine time when you can’t do what we would traditionally do, we would be a little substitute for that,” he added.

Chief Nursing Officer Betty Craig said this year has been tough for many in the hospital, but something like a Thanksgiving lunch goes a long way.

“This morning was an opportunity for us as an executive team to thank our employees for everything that they do 365 days a year,” she noted.

She said it’s also a time for hospital leadership to reflect on the people sacrificing their day for others.

“We are very fortunate to have an amazing staff. They truly are health care heroes.”