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Open Door Mission and Stephen Center serve Thanksgiving meals, face challenges with COVID-19

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 1:17 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thanksgiving looks much different this year at the Open Door Mission and the Stephen Center as volunteers work to serve hundreds impacted by homelessness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to celebrate the holiday.

“We actually have fewer volunteers than we’ve ever had before,” says Open Door Mission CEO Candace Gregory.

Thanksgiving at the open door mission typically starts with 150 volunteers working to make sure the day goes off without a hitch.

This year about 30 volunteers are working to serve hundreds of people impacted by homelessness.

And here they are serving more people than ever before.

“It’s really labor-intensive. Our staff is exhausted. Many have not had a vacation so this is definitely in the last 26 years that I’ve been at the mission… this looks a lot different this holiday season,” Open Door Mission CEO Candace Gregory.

Volunteers say it was more important than ever to step up and help those struggling in the community.

“It’s really humbling to be able to serve people. We sometimes take for granted what we have so it’s good to take a couple hours out of the day to help those a little less fortunate,” says Jeff Shaughnessy, volunteer.

Over at the Stephen Center—meals have been stacked throughout the day to help with social distancing.

“Within the Stephen Center it’s more of a small family feeling… lots of hugs… lots of love in that way so, not to be able to show physical affection has truly been different this holiday season,” Beth Robbins- Ellis, Stephen Center volunteer coordinator.

Volunteers say it’s worth it help the community during this difficult time.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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