From missing visits with family to skipping Black Friday shopping in stores, Nebraskans will go without many Thanksgiving traditions this year.
But one local church stepped forward Saturday so some local families don’t go without a warm Thanksgiving dinner.
River of Life Lutheran Church, at 5151 Northwest Radial, held a drive-thru that provided 200 families with the makings of a full Thanksgiving meal.
Stacey Coffey, the church’s outreach chairwoman, said families received a frozen turkey, sides, dessert and a Bible, as well as a letter and some prayers of thanksgiving they can say. The event was open to anyone in need but was aimed at families with students at nearby Benson High School.
The event was a first for the church, Coffey said, but the response was overwhelmingly positive, both among volunteers and recipients.
“It’s really awesome to see the joy of people being able to serve and help somebody else,” she said.
The event was kept safe with masks, social distancing and hand sanitizer, Coffey said. She said the drive-thru offered a fantastic chance for the church to reach out to the community, something that has been difficult this year.
The church wanted to help ease people’s mental strain and loneliness.
Joseph Haggas, a leader of an addiction recovery ministry at the church, said he jumped at the chance to help his community.
“It’s refreshing to know that in our social distancing and the requirements, we have an opportunity to touch lives,” he said.
Haggas said that because people feel so distant from others physically, it’s never been more vital to come together emotionally.
“I think we have to look towards the community and see where people have already laid the groundwork for us to be philanthropists,” he said.