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Charities to serve Thanksgiving meals despite pandemic

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Katrina Dorsey has Thanksgiving all planned out this year.

She said her guests will line up at the side of the Anniston Soup Bowl, which she heads, come through to wash their hands, get water and a to-go plate and then head out.

It’s not what would happen during a normal year, Dorsey said, but she wants her guests to have a quality meal while still staying safe.

Local charities say they’ve overcome setbacks recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Tropical Storm Zeta, but they still plan to serve Thanksgiving dinner next week.

Dorsey said the Soup Bowl’s dining room would typically be open, and those whom they serve could eat together. But because she’s been following the ever-changing health guidelines through the pandemic, she said, they’ve been serving to-go meals since July. All volunteers have been wearing gloves and masks as they serve food, she said.

She said they’ll do the same on Thanksgiving, only with the traditional turkey and dressing.

“We will continue to serve people,” she said.

Brenda Headrick, director of the Piedmont Benevolence Center, said volunteers typically distribute food on the third Saturday of each month. In November, she said, her guests get the typical Thanksgiving fare, including ingredients to make some of their own dishes, as well as regular grocery items.

“They get the whole nine yards to make dressing or a pie,” Headrick said.

The only thing different this year, Headrick said, was that volunteers would be following health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Janice Scheitlin, who is in charge of the Calhoun Baptist Association’s service centers, said the association will be closed early, so they gave out Thanksgiving food in advance.

“It’s above and beyond what we normally give,” Scheitlin said.

When Tropical Storm Zeta hit the area last month, Headrick said, the Piedmont Benevolence Center was “blessed” to have kept power, but volunteers gave out emergency meals for those who had lost it.

Dorsey said the Anniston Soup Bowl was without power for nearly a week after the storm. Once power was back on, she said, the ice machine, freezer and cooler needed repairs.

“We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday cleaning,” she said. “We lost everything.”

Even so, she’s confident the Soup Bowl will feed plenty of people at Thanksgiving.

“We’re not panicked about food right now,” she said.

Dorsey said people are typically more generous around the holidays, but the Soup Bowl is always open for donations. Likewise, Headrick said, they aren’t hurting, either.

“We’ve been so blessed,” she said.

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563 or