A smile was audible in Barb Monoian’s voice even if a mask kept one from being visible on her face.
“This is amazing,” Monoian said. “This is spectacular.”
Monoian was among the hundreds who received Thanksgiving meals thanks to the combined efforts of the Salvation Army, the Glory Hall and the United Way of Southeast Alaska are working with the Hangar on the Wharf, T.K. Maguire’s and Bocca al Lupo, and she was particularly pleased by a hand-decorated card that came with a meal.
“You are amazing,” the card stated.
Volunteers and residents in need alike gathered at the Downtown Transit Center Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for an annual meal distribution that’s been taking place for over 20 years, according to longtime volunteers.
The outside location was new to this year’s event in an effort to mitigate risk of spreading COVID-19, said Salvation Army officer Gina Halverson. In past years, the holiday meal has been served inside the Hangar on the Wharf.
While Thursday morning began drizzly, skies withheld precipitation as meals were passed out from the Salvation Army’s mobile cantina.
Some people walked up to the cantina to collect meals, while others waited for volunteers to deliver bags of food to their vehicles. Essentially everyone wore a face covering.
Jeremy Schlosser of Chapel by the Lake was among those picking up food. Schlosser collected dozens of meals to distribute to those helped by the St. Vincent de Paul shelter and residents of Fireweed Place and Trillium Landing. He said the work of the nonprofits and largess of restaurants is appreciated.
The hundreds of meals distributed in person were only part of a larger whole. Prior to the roughly midday distribution, about 450 boxes of food had been delivered to Juneau residents, Halverson said.
She credited the success of the event to the dozens of volunteers, several businesses and Dick Hand, who has long been the man behind the smoked turkeys used in the meals.
“It’s actually quite a team,” Halverson said. “It really has taken a huge community.”
Victoria Godkin, who has been volunteering with the Salvation Army for 21 years, was among that community. Godkin said she was never in doubt the event would go on despite the pandemic.
“The first thing that came to mind is our cantina,” she said before joking, “The best part is we don’t need to cook in it.”
Godkin estimated about 1,500 people would eat from the meals distributed Thursday, and she noted a van would attempt to give leftovers from the meal distribution event to people in need who might not have been able to attend.
She said the spirit of the event made it an easy decision to volunteer year after year.
“It’s a good cause,” Godkin said. “God has blessed me, so I am blessing others.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt