Ahead of local church’s Thanksgiving meal, great needs are met with greater generosity

MARFA — The annual Thanksgiving community meal at Saint Paul’s Espiscopal Church will take on a new shape this year, as communal gatherings are being discouraged this holiday season in light of coronavirus cases growing across the United States, Texas and the Big Bend region.

Vicar Michael Wallens said this year, his church will be collecting food donations and distributing them to families who want or need them. “We’ve obviously changed because the virus has changed how we’re doing things.”

At first, the church planned to set up a buffet where hungry townspeople could go through the line with their masks on, make plates of food and take them home, rather than eating at the church. But as COVID-19 numbers have grown steadily over the past month, Wallens said the plans changed.

Thanksgiving fixings will now be boxed up early and delivered this Sunday “to give people time to do whatever preparations they need,” Wallen said.

The vicar has also seen a growing need for assistance among the community, not only for food but for financial and mental support. “People are coming to me individually or emailing me and asking for assistance, and not just with food but with bills,” he said. “There’s more requests for money from the discretionary fund, so the need is greater,” Wallens said. “And, in the way the virus works, isolation impacts peoples’ moods, their way of viewing the world.”

But the outpouring of generosity has been great too. Wallens said his congregation has been doing continuous food collections at the church and then taking them to the local Marfa food pantry. The local Dairy Queen is donating six turkeys and keeping them in their freezers for now so the church doesn’t run out of space to store food for the big holiday next week.

“If people want to donate food stuffs or make donations, that’d be great. If they want to help with their masks on to box up stuff, that will be done the Sunday before Thanksgiving.”

The church is currently collecting names of those who want a Thanksgiving box. Call (915) 239-7409 or email [email protected]. Wallens said, “We want to keep our tradition up of feeding people, but at the same time be safe.”