‘It’s like a substitute family’: Volunteers serve up Thanksgiving meals to seniors, those in need

Hundreds in Spokane gave a little more than thanks Thursday, as they volunteered to pass out warm meals to those in need on Thanksgiving — but they say this holiday is more than just food.

Family might be one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about Thanksgiving, but some cannot say the same. They may be homebound — or they may not even have a relationship with them at all. With that in mind, Jim Moyer and his family make it a point to connect with those people every Thanksgiving.

Moyer volunteers with Feed Thy Neighbor to put together hundreds of meals for Spokane seniors then drive them right up to their front door steps.

“I think for a lot of people that we deliver meals to, they’re homebound and on the holidays I think it’s especially a wonderful thing to do because it may be the only interaction a lot of them have during the day,” Moyer said. “So, a chance to bring them a meal, have a visit with them, wish them a happy Thanksgiving — it means a lot to us and I think it means a lot to them.”

That human connection also means a lot to Renata Duncan, who’s a member at the Mid-City Senior Center, which hosted a Thanksgiving feast, open to seniors and anyone in need, Thursday afternoon. Volunteers there had to start serving an hour earlier than expected, because the center was filling up fast. Duncan says — there’s a reason for that.

“For me, I can’t spend Thanksgiving with my friends and my family so just coming here, it’s like a substitute family. It just makes me feel appreciative of what I do have,” Duncan said. “And, you know, we never know how we may touch someone else. Just me being here, having an ear to listen to somebody — just listening — we never know what that could do, so that’s why I like coming here on a holiday. Just makes me feel a part of a thankful family.”

Duncan was one of about 800 people to receive a Thanksgiving meal from either Meals on Wheels or Feed Thy Neighbor Thursday. Volunteers say they fundraise and spend $2,000 to $3,000 every year on the meals. It doesn’t go to waste either — any leftovers are boxed up, then given to local homeless shelters.