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A helping hand

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly to deliver meals for elders on Thanksgiving

(Photo courtesy of Metro Creative)

MARQUETTE — Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Upper Michigan Chapter have been providing Thanksgiving meals to elders in need for several years.

That tradition will continue this year in a format that protects both elders and volunteers from COVID-19.

Rather than its traditional “sit-down” Thanksgiving meal, LBFE will be distributing meals via home delivery this holiday season, a decision made in September with the coronavirus pandemic still raging and showing no end in sight.

Volunteers will collect meals via curbside pickup from LBFE’s nine licensed kitchen locations on Thanksgiving Day, which will then be distributed to elders across Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Baraga and Marquette counties. Volunteers will be screened, are provided with a personal protective equipment kit and will never have to exit their vehicles.

Andrea Harvey, program director for LBFE’s Marquette office, said that the amount of volunteers has increased within the last week, and LBFE is still in need of more in certain counties.

“The community has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “Within a week, we’ve gone from around 35 volunteers to over 140. Here in Marquette, it’s been very successful so far. We serve five counties. Keweenaw and Houghton have had success in finding volunteers, so has Ontonagon. Baraga has been hit really hard by the virus, and we’re still in need of volunteers there for deliveries.”

A total of 1,100 meals will be delivered to elders aged 60 and older who will be alone on the holiday between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday. In Marquette County alone, Harvey said they’ve reached their limit and expect upward of 200 meals to be delivered.

“Last year we served around 130 and this year we are likely over 200,” she said. “We were supposed to stop at 170, but there are so many people who have been emotionally impacted by the virus. Elderly are stuck at home, some are high risk and families are afraid to gather.

“They’re finding themselves alone and kind of wanting that traditional Thanksgiving meal.

“We’ve all experienced isolation this year. I read an article that said somebody being in isolation for 30 days is like smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 30 days. There’s a physical and mental wear that it takes on our bodies.”

Meals include the traditional turkey dinner and all the trimmings that go along with it. While Marquette County has reached its capacity for Thanksgiving, LBFE plans on doing another meal delivery for Christmas.

“If interested, we’re planning on doing this for Christmas as well, and elders can call our office to get a reservation for Christmas,” Harvey said.

Harvey said volunteers will likely be accepted until 11:59 p.m. today. To volunteer, you can register at register.littlebrothers.org or call LBFE’s Marquette office at 906-273-2575. Volunteers will be required to wear face masks and follow social distancing protocol.

A full COVID-19 safety plan for meal delivery, a wish list of donation items LBFE is seeking this holiday season and more information on LBFE’s initiatives can be found at the Upper Michigan Chapter’s website, https://houghton.littlebrothers.org/

To reach LBFE Upper Michigan Chapter’s main office, located in Hancock, call 906-482-6944 or email michigan@littlebrothers.org.

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