Homeless Organization Coping With Cold and COVID-19

by Moriah Ellis

Thanksgiving plans this year looked quite different due to COVID-19. The City Rescue Mission’s holiday plans were no exception in this pandemic.

The City Rescue Mission serves the homeless and near homeless in Oklahoma City and every Thanksgiving serves around 2,000 meals. Due to the global pandemic and spiking COVID-19 cases in the Oklahoma City Metro, a traditional Thanksgiving meal was not possible.

“This year, we sat down my team at night, sat around and started brainstorming and said, what could we do that would still engage those amazing volunteers that love sponsoring a table? And we came up with an idea of table sponsorship in a box.” Debbie MacDonald, the Vice President of Development, said. 

Thanksgiving boxes included encouragement cards, table decorations, recipe cards, and individually wrapped, single-serve desserts. Sponsors received a gift of an apron, masks, and recipes to help them feel like they were still part of the traditional meal. It was a way to bring a piece of their home and hearts of those served by the mission.

“I love the mission, and I love our clients, and I love, I love the fact that we can actually help transform lives.” says MacDonald. “This year, we had about 250 clients come in for Thanksgiving.”

Adding to this season of giving is the annual problem of the cold and how it impacts the homeless. Coping with the cold is especially difficult this year due to the pandemic.

“When cold weather hits, we do our cold weather mats, and that’s what most shelters do,” MacDonald said. “We have room for individuals to come in, that want to get in from the cold and have a hot meal.” 

The City Rescue Mission opened a wing for COVID-19 patients, which used up the space needed for the cold weather mats.

Because the typical cold weather space was taken, other local organizations worked together to create a plan for what to do when those without a home need a place to stay at night.

The Homeless Alliance opened up its doors to the people that go to the City Rescue Mission. Usually, they wouldn’t house people overnight, but because of the collaboration and different issues facing us in 2020, they were able to make overnight stays possible. 

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