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West Michigan organizations help feed families ahead of the holiday

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Nov 21, 2021

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon Rescue Mission hosted its Thanksgiving community feast on Sunday.

An annual tradition, the organization gives a meal with the festive trimmings to unhoused people. It’s estimated 200 people were fed this year.

“This is what we enjoy,” said Dan Skoglund, executive director. “Bringing people in, getting to know them and having conversations and doing it over a meal.”

Sadia Van Guilder, a volunteer, passed out drinks to the people in attendance. The 19-year-old began helping out as a young teenager and says it has shaped her into her adult life.

“There’s always people who need help, there’s always people out there who are struggling,” said Van Guilder. “Not everybody gets this type of experience in their life, especially if they’re struggling, so I think it’s just a way for people to see there are people who care.”

In 2020, the pandemic canceled the event, although the mission distributed a “overwhelming” number of meals through its Thanksgiving basket giveaway.

Skoglund says COVID-19, but more recently inflation, caused by supply chain issues, continues to push people into poverty. He says the need for their services in the area grows each month.

“We’ve seen a significant rise,” said Skoglund. “It’s in excess of 20 percent.”

About 800 families will be assisted through the Thanksgiving basket giveaway. It starts on Monday, November 22, and Tuesday, November 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at 400 W. Laketon Avenue.

It’s limited to one basket per family but includes a frozen turkey, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and a dessert for a meal at home with the family. No registration is required. People must wear a mask and bring a photo id.

Skoglund hopes a meal eases some of the burden people are feeling.

“For the homeless and the needy in our community, the holidays are just another time of remembrance that we don’t have, we can’t do, we can’t provide,” said Skoglund. “We want to walk alongside them and say we can help you with that, enjoy the holidays with your family.”

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