How we do Thanksgiving

I guess I’m not a very good showman. I have always tried to avoid the cameras. Even so, we have ended up on all the network affiliates’ newscasts and the daily and weekly papers in the city at some point through the years. Over nearly 23 years, that can probably just be attributed to some bad luck on a few slow news days. I suppose if I were a real go-getter of a fundraiser, this would be the prime time for the human interest story to tug at the heartstrings with the cameras rolling. We do not serve on the street on Thanksgiving. We have found that there are plenty of other people who want to get the attention for spreading table cloths in center city and serving dinner one night a year. One homeless fellow told me that if you want a turkey dinner with all the fixin’s in center city on Thanksgiving Day “all you have to do is stand still and it will come to you.” We are happy that this is part of our American tradition and that there are those families who are happy to serve on Thanksgiving.

We feel that the root cause of homelessness is the break down of the family. When families are strong, it seems there is always room for one more. Almost every Thursday night of the year we are out serving a meal on the street, so at Thanksgiving, we are careful to spend time with our families. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The most important thing you can do to fight homelessness this Thanksgiving is to do your best to have a loving and memorable day with your loved ones. Hopefully  your family includes some who can’t be with their’s as well.

We don’t take pictures of the people we serve. We do not make merchandise of them as objects of pity. We treat them with respect. We have come to truly respect and love many of them. Apparently telling this doesn’t loosen the purse strings as effectively as printing a picture of a toothless old man in shabby clothes receiving a steaming hot cup of soup from a smiling, clean volunteer. Sorry.

They still need help. We still need your money to help them. Will it help if I tell you some of them will pray for you? Some of them will.

Last Thursday, we gave turkeys to two of the men who have moved into apartments. After we served on the street, we dropped off 17 turkeys from St. Philip’s Turkeys ‘R’ Us drive to Revs. Joses & Chantal St. Phard at their home for them to distribute at The Word In Action International Ministries. Today, I brought two fresh turkeys and two more frozen turkeys down to TWIA Ministries along with several boxes of food and some grocery store gift cards for them to distribute. Today, they were expecting over 300 families in their north Philadelphia neighborhood to show up looking for food for Thanksgiving.

We will be serving dinner on the street on Tuesday Nov. 29 and then every Thursday until Holy Thursday, and the last Tuesday of each month, as well. We thank God and each of you who support us with sandwiches, turkeys, toiletries, money, etc., and prayer. If we are given more, we will be able to do more. We do not have a reserve. You do not give alms for them to sit in a bank. You give them. We give them. It’s simple.

Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!


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