Turkey Take-Out: Expanding on a Holiday Tradition to Meet a Greater Need

January 27, 2021

It has been said so much: the year 2020 required a lot of thinking outside the box, and Raleigh Rescue Mission’s “Gobbles to Go” event was no exception. The long-standing collaboration with Meals on Wheels to deliver meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas just had to be different due to COVID-19, and with even more individuals and families facing food insecurity during the pandemic, it was an opportunity to expand even further into serving the community.

The Mission’s physical location, safety restrictions and limited parking presented a challenge for growing the event; however, Lisa Yebuah, Campus Pastor at nearby Southeast Raleigh Table UMC, immediately jumped at the opportunity to partner. The church’s location at 1950 New Bern Avenue, with plenty of outdoor space for social distancing, lots of parking, and great accessibility for drive-through pickups was ideal. Not only was it possible to serve Meals on Wheels clients, over 2,000 additional adults and children were able to enjoy a delicious, heat-and-eat holiday meal.

“The volunteers and team who put together the packages worked hard to make them look and taste good,” says Virginia Gustafson, Director of Staff and Volunteers at the Mission. “We all wanted it to feel like a special holiday meal from a loved one, not just a hand-out. We were able to utilize Mission and church volunteers to package meals, as well as to distribute meals via a drive-thru site and deliveries. This event was the result of so many people in our community coming together, including The Carolina Hurricanes, Marriott Hotels, Yellow Dog Bakery, Cranksgiving and HIS Radio, to name a few. They donated food, provided and prepared turkeys, sides and desserts, and faithful Mission donors enabled us to purchase everything else we needed.”

Mission and Southeast Raleigh Table staff and volunteers admit they learned a lot as they worked through a myriad of logistics and weathered torrential rain at both events. So will they do it again? They are already looking at other days that they can show up in the community! Stay tuned to learn more soon about ways to connect.