When Riverside Community Church’s annual free Thanksgiving dinner was canceled last year due to COVID, the congregation, with the help of Graciela Gomez, identified Latino families who would welcome a dinner. The “Family to Family” project paired a family in the Riverside congregation with a family who would welcome a dinner. The volunteer families prepared a dinner and delivered it to their Latino neighbors on Thanksgiving.
“I received many calls and texts telling me, with tears, how much the dinners meant to them,” Gomez recalls. The families at Riverside Church also reported how important it was for them to participate. “I loved the smiles from our adopted family, even though all I could say was ‘Hola!’ and all I could understand was ‘Gracias!'” said Riverside participant Kathy Watson.
Riverside Church will continue “Family to Family” this year, again with the assistance of Gomez. Due to the outsize need, Riverside Church is inviting other GEM organizations and churches to also participate. Those who wish to volunteer to prepare and deliver a dinner on Thanksgiving should send an email to coordinator Gean Rains at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email, volunteers should indicate what size family they are able to serve. Families who want to receive dinners will be identified by November 8, and assignments to volunteer families will go out shortly after that. Riverside Church has Spanish speakers available to smooth the partnerships; arranging delivery times and identifying any special food needs or allergies.