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COVID-19 impacts those feeding local homeless, in need; Thanksgiving adjustments underway

Volunteer Michael Bowser stood just inside the doors of the Hospitality Center, large paper bag in hand, and over the course of several hours handed the bagged meals to clients as they arrived.

Inside, the once busy eating area at 3959 Gulfway Drive is now closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

Masks are required of the folks inside and though Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, they are not accepting any new volunteers.

Christina Green, director of the Hospitality Center, enters data into a computer. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Christina Green, director of the Hospitality Center, said she hates that they cannot bring in new volunteers because the holidays are a time when individuals love to help.

The center is part of Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas and provides a meal for the elderly on fixed incomes, temporarily needy, working poor, disabled and homeless persons, 365 days a year.

Green said the number of people seeking a meal is usually lower at the beginning of the month as people receive checks. The number increases through the end of the month.

She hasn’t noticed an increase in homeless persons but there is an increase in the individuals seeking meals — and they are now regularly cooking to feed 150.

Michael Bowser prepares to hand a bagged meal to a client at Hospitality Center. The center is not allowing dine-in eating due to the pandemic restrictions. (Mary Meaux/The News)

As clients came to the door and were issued the bag with a meal, Green was inside at a table noting the names of those individuals. She can’t speak specifically to how COVID has impacted the homeless population but believes “ours are safe.”

She misses the interaction, communication and closeness she had with the clients pre-COVID.

The center isn’t accepting any donations of clothes at this time because the clothing room is full, but it is accepting blankets, winter coats, knit caps, gloves, socks and raincoats.

“Anything to help them stay warm during the winter,” she said.

And while those who visit the center may not be able to gather in a traditional sense and celebrate Thanksgiving, they will receive a really good meal, take-out.

A quote by Mother Teresa is seen pinned to a wall near the serving area inside the Hospitality Center. (Mary Meaux/The News)

 

SETX Educational Development Foundation

During the summer Joe Tant, his family and others came together to feed pizza to the less fortunate.

Another such event is scheduled for February 2021, Tant said of the Southeast Texas Educational Foundation, which he started. The foundation allocated $5,000 toward this event.

The public can send donations in care of Southeast Texas Educational Development Foundation. The contact information is on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SETXEducationalDevelopmentFoundation

Breanne Furlough, the chief marketing officer; Dabeyva Durant-Tant, the chief financial officer; Scott Street, athletic director at Lamar State College Port Arthur; and the entire Foundation Board is committed to helping with this event.

“We estimate that we will be feeding around 850 individuals and families,” Tant said.