Partners Helped Feed the Masses this Thanksgiving
For many of us, the holidays are the best time of year. Some look forward to gathering together with family, receiving gifts, and sharing a holiday meal all year long. But for those experiencing homelessness, the holidays can be an especially hard time. Luckily, our community partners have stepped up to the plate to bring the gift of a warm meal to hundreds of individuals in need this holiday season.
Little Caesars Love Kitchen On November 16th, our family shelters were visited by Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a semi-truck that travels across the United States feeding individuals in need. The founders of Little Caesars, Mr. & Mrs. Ilitch, had a passion for giving back. Originating in Detroit, they decided that it would be amazing if they could travel the United States and serve communities in need. They started their “Pizza for People'' campaign in 1985 – eventually becoming known as the Little Caesars Love Kitchen. They have served almost 4 million people since then, including people without housing, disaster survivors, military and first responders, and people who are food insecure. The trucks are run and operated by franchise owners and employees who volunteer their time to help their community. In early November they reached out to The Salvation Army to ask how they could best serve our shelters. We immediately set a date for their truck to come feed the residents of our two family shelters, The Austin Shelter for Women and Children and The Rathgeber Center for Families.
The employees of Little Caesars made 90 pizzas and shared their philanthropic stories as we served our clients a nice pizza meal. The clients were thrilled that there were leftover pizzas they could take back to their room. It was heartwarming to see their faces light up as they walked in the dining room and saw the hot pizzas waiting for them. We learned to trust the power pizza can have on people!
Thanksgiving Community Meal At our Downtown Shelter, we had the opportunity to open our doors up to the community for a Thanksgiving meal. It was the first time we were able to do this since the pandemic! Around 200 individuals experiencing homelessness stopped by for a warm meal, complete with all the Thanksgiving favorites - turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. There were homemade placemats, decorated by children volunteering through Generation Serve, that brought joy to everyone’s faces. Volunteers were on-site serving the warm meals, refilling drinks, and cleaning up. There was an energy of thankfulness from each and every person we served. Despite all of the challenges they face, they were overwhelmingly appreciative of the meal they received. We also had a photographer on site, taking photos of the clients. Many were eager to have their photos taken, and also wanted to share their stories. Volunteers, staff, and clients had a great time chatting with each other, meeting new people, and spreading holiday cheer.
Glimmer of Hope Turkey Donation This year, our friends from Glimmer of Hope Austin donated 13 turkeys to the families living in Phase II of our Rathgeber Center for Families. Phase II units have a full kitchen and families are responsible for preparing their own meals, with the intention of integrating independent living back into each family’s lifestyle. The donation of turkeys allowed these parents to provide their children with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We are grateful to Glimmer for thinking about these individuals and going the extra mile to make their holidays brighter!
We are so grateful to be able to serve our community and partner with organizations such as Glimmer of Hope and Little Caesars. The holidays offer an opportunity to go beyond providing basic needs, and provide joy and hope to our neighbors who need it most. The thankfulness of those we serve can be a lesson to us all.
From all of us here at The Salvation Army, thank you and Happy Holidays!