Coming together over a holiday meal is a cornerstone of many people’s Thanksgivings. For those who can’t put a feast on the table, there are organizations throughout Greenwood providing free meals for those who need them.
The Soup Kitchen of Greenwood provided a full Thanksgiving meal to guests every year, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, its dining room has been closed. Each morning volunteers provide bag lunches for guests, but Thanksgiving will still feature its seasonal flavors this year.
“We’re going to make a turkey casserole, and it will be served hot,” said Norman Fawcett, chairman of the soup kitchen’s board of directors. “We all know holidays are special, and we always try — for years and years we did a huge turkey feast. But we still wanted to do something special.”
On Thanksgiving, from 11 a.m. to noon, anyone in search of a meal can come by the soup kitchen at 929 Phoenix St. Volunteers will be handing out to-go plates of casserole at the East Street side of the United Center for Community Care. Fawcett said he knows a take-out meal isn’t the same as sitting down in the dining room for fellowship, but guests have appreciated that the soup kitchen hasn’t slowed in its mission to feed Greenwood’s hungry.
Next door in the United Center, Food Bank of Greenwood County Executive Director Andrea White said the nonprofit will be running on extended hours Thanksgiving week and will be open Wednesday so families can get what they need before the holiday.
Donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation and Enviva landed the food bank more than 90 frozen turkeys, which White said the group gave to the seniors it serves through its Second Harvest program. Volunteers and staff gave boxes of holiday meals to Brewer Middle School too, to provide food for families in need.
White said the food bank could use help after an influx of donations, however. Self Regional Healthcare donated three bins of food that haven’t been sorted yet, and Velux donated three pallets of nonperishables. White asked anyone interested in volunteering to call 864-227-1556 ahead of time to schedule volunteer hours.
“We’re very thankful to the Greenwood community that has supported us through our food drive,” she said. “The food bank is not our food bank, it’s the community’s food bank.”
The Piedmont Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program isn’t delivering on Thanksgiving day, but a holiday meal is going out in their Wednesday deliveries, said Meal Ministry Director Becky Wilson.
Turkey, dressing and gravy, cranberry salad, green beans, a dinner roll and pumpkin pie will be in the meals volunteers deliver to the hundreds of seniors the Piedmont Agency on Aging’s meal ministry serves throughout Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens and Saluda counties.
“Our motto is ‘More than a meal,’ and we try to make it so no senior goes hungry,” she said.
People without a home can get a warm meal, too — the Greenwood Pathway House works with meal volunteers who cook and bring in lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving and sit to eat with the homeless shelter’s clients.
“I know our clients really enjoy that, sitting down and getting to know and talk with our meal volunteers,” said Elena Morse, who works in administration at the Pathway House. “We would not be where we are today if not for our meal volunteers.”
She said the shelter gets about 50-60 meal volunteers annually, and people get excited to come in and connect with the clients in the men’s and women’s shelters. With the nonprofit providing three meals every day for each client, she said the shelter is always in need of nonperishable foods, as well as cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Anyone interested in getting on the meal calendar or donating can call the Pathway House’s ministry office at 864-223-4460.
In Ninety Six, James Hamphill said the Edgewood Community Center has partnered with Columbia-based Bigger Than Sports, S.C. for its third year of providing turkeys to people in need. He said he reached out on Facebook for people to sign up if they needed food for Thanksgiving, and delivered the turkey and sides directly to them.
Together, he said they’ll give away about 35 complete Thanksgiving meals this year. Any leftover food will be donated to an area nonprofit, he said. For information on the community center and its programs, visit facebook.com/edgewoodcc96. Learn about Bigger Than Sports at biggerthansportssc.com
“I just want to give back to this community,” he said. “I wanted to do something to make a difference. I felt like it was a blessing to get this facility, so any chance we get to do something, we do it.”
Two annual community meals are set to continue their traditions. Avery Roman and Marandy Woolridge will host their community dinner from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at The Hut, 1310 E. Cambridge Ave. The food is donated from local restaurants, and Roman said volunteers will be handing out to-go plates in a drive-thru line outside behind The Hut. The menu includes ham, turkey, dressing with gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rice, a roll and cake.
Gloria Daniel, owner of Holloway Grocery at 326 Marion Ave., said she wasn’t going to miss out on feeding people this year. Each Thanksgiving, she provides food out of the small grocery store for anyone who comes by. As a COVID-19 precaution, she said crews will be bringing to-go plates to the door for people looking for a meal.
The collards, green beans, turkey, ham, dressing, rice and gravy wouldn’t be possible, she said, without the help from the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. She said church staff donated a refrigerator in previous years and have helped make sure she could still put this meal in the face of challenges.
Daniel said she’ll be serving food from 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving until the food runs out. It’s an act of love for her neighbors, but also an act of kindness she wished she’d received growing up.
“Here at the little store, we just make enough to keep going. It feels good to feed them all,” she said. “Coming up, we didn’t have nothing and nobody came and gave us nothing. If you’re hungry, come to Holloway Grocery — we’re going to feed till there’s nothing in the pan.”