Thanksgiving for 300: Knox Area Rescue Ministries tries to safely serve

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thanksgiving Day at Knox Area Rescue Ministries is much like any other, according to the KARM CEO.

“It starts with a meal. Giving people an opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal and once there’s bellies full and they get an opportunity to be around people for Thanksgiving, you know, it can be such a lonely time of year for so many people,” Burt Rosen said. “Sometimes it’s the food, other times it’s just being around other people with a smile and the opportunity to engage. It wipes away some of the pain so many people have during this time of year.”

Every day volunteers serve 300 people three meals a day. Nothing changed for Thanksgiving, but the menu is full of holiday staples. Even during a pandemic, the meals continue.

“We’ve been able to do it safely put on the meal, so we’re really blessed,” Bobby Arthur, a volunteer, said.

He has been working for KARM for 10 years. The only thing different about this particular day, are the protocols taken to try to keep a large gathering socially distant and safe while COVID-19 spreads in communities across America.

“We are spreading out seating across the campus; staging the entry of guests for safety and efficiency; cleaning all dining areas between seatings; requiring our staff and volunteers to wear masks; taking temperature checks before staff, volunteers and guests enter the building; and we’re providing hand sanitizing stations,” Rosen said.

The meal is as important as ever for people like Rachel Crass who lives at KARM. She experienced homelessness for two years until a hot meal changed her path.

“It’s not about arguing. It’s not about what are we going to do for this or that. It’s not your simple dinner that you just sit down and talk over. It’s a time of the year where family gets together, they come to, and they are thankful for what they have,” she said.

Meals were spaced out into three time slots to try to keep people distant. Usually, it is a come and go as you please style.

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