LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Thanksgiving will look quite different this year at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada as staff prepares to serve thousands of meals to people in need in the Las Vegas valley.
President and CEO Deacon Tom Roberts said the coronavirus pandemic has made their service to the vulnerable homeless population more important than ever, but more challenging as well.
"Like everyone, we've figured out a way to make it happen," he said.
Roberts said their normally packed community dining room will be empty in favor of a newly constructed outdoor pavilion to provide dinner for roughly 1,300 men and women while providing for social distancing and ventilation.
"The food may only last a few hours," he said, "but the hope that's provided by being here may be the beacon of light, the beacon of hope, that people are looking for."
Thanksgiving dinner has been the latest in a long list of challenges the non-profit has had to hurdle to continue serving the valley's underprivileged population.
Roberts said his staff has had to develop social distancing in their food pantry, cancel their volunteer program, and reconfigure their overnight shelter.
"That shelter was built for capacity, not distance."
He said without volunteers the work dozens of helpers normally accomplish has fallen wholly on his staff members as more people, including those known to Catholic Charities staff members, line up for help because they've lost their job in the economic slow-down.
"I had to take a step back," Roberts said of recognizing an old coworker, "I realized they had lost their job and now they were coming for help and they used to donate to us."
Roberts said CARES Act support, a PPP loan, and help from generous donors has been the only thing keeping their doors open.
Through the winter months and Holiday season, he said donations of warm clothes, masks, and money would help them help others.
Anyone interested can volunteer virtually or donate through the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada website.