Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, one Roswell area nonprofit is working to do what they can this Thanksgiving to bring some relief and food to individuals in need.
Volunteers with Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services, a local nonprofit, will spend a few hours today and Thursday to brighten the Thanksgivings of those enduring hardship, Enrique Moreno, founder and director of the organization, said Tuesday.
Moreno said he and volunteers will deliver turkeys to several households in the Roswell area where people have had to self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Because they want to avoid transmitting the virus, Moreno said many of those individuals are not venturing out to the stores.
“And we want to say thanks for that,” he said.
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Based on what they have for donations, Moreno said they will try to bring each household a turkey, while those who lack an oven or are unable to cook a turkey will be given pies.
Then on Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m., Moreno said he and some volunteers will serve food from their heated bus at locations frequented by the homeless. A local woman, he said, will prepare turkey, ham and the fixings.
“And as soon as we see somebody, we will pull out a plate and start serving, and hand out a dessert, a meal and a drink to anybody walking around town,” he said.
Moreno added that he and his crew plan to pick up the prepared food around noon, which will be kept warm, before then going to select areas where the homeless tend to congregate.
They will most likely make their first stop at a trailer park on East Bland Street recently condemned by the city of Roswell, but where many people with low incomes continue to reside.
Moreno is moving forward with these plans even in the face of a sharp drop in contributions from the public and greater need for the services he provides amid the economic fallout that has resulted from the pandemic and measures taken to curb spread of the virus.
He said that his organization in the last year has been hit by large reductions in donations and volunteers, while also experiencing a large rise in demand for their services.
Last Thanksgiving, Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services had just purchased a bus used to distribute items to those in need and serve as a warming place for the homeless. And in years past, Moreno said, he has received money or in-kind contributions for as many as 20 or 30 turkeys.
The recent public health order limiting the number of customers who can go into a store at a given time, along with the closure of some major local grocery stores due to positive tests among store employees, has complicated efforts this year.
Donations of canned goods and non-perishable items have dropped significantly at the same time that more people are depending on Moreno’s organization for assistance.
To save money on fuel and other operating expenses, Moreno said, he has had to halt some services and restricts delivery of items to only those in COVID-19 positive households or the elderly and other populations unable to leave their homes.
He added that others must go to the food pantry that Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services operates near its thrift store at the Monterey Shopping Center at 1400 W. Second St., between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
And as people have lost jobs and are preoccupied with trying to make ends meet, that has also meant a shortage of available volunteers.
Two monthly coat drives the group holds had to be canceled because of a lack of volunteers.
During the Thanksgiving season though, he said he sees an uptick in people willing to volunteer because usually people want to do more to help others during Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
People who want to get a turkey, make donations or otherwise help can contact Moreno at the Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services Relief Line, at 575-208-4055, or through the group’s Facebook page.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.