Connellsville Thanksgiving

Mark Hofmann | Herald-Standard

In this file photo, volunteers prepare for the annual Connellsville Thanksgiving Day Dinner. This year, meals will be pickup or delivery only, as the pandemic has precluded the tradition of serving people in person.

Although COVID-19 caused a change with this year’s “Connellsville Thanksgiving,” free meals will be ready for those who need them.

Normally, the dinner in Connellsville is organized by the City Church of Connellsville working with the board of 20 area churches to serve and deliver dinners on Thanksgiving Day.

However, because of restrictions with the pandemic, in-person service at City Church wasn’t possible.

Mary Sampey, the development coordinator with Connellsville Area Community Ministries said they decided to partner with city officials to do a pick-up or delivery Connellsville Thanksgiving, getting area restaurants and a church with a serve-safe kitchen through the Yough Catholic Community Churches to prepare the meals.

The restaurants included Zia Maria Bakery & Cafe, Club House Pizzeria and Fox’s Tavern, which not only agreed to make the meals, but offered to pay for the ingredients.

“Most of them are making between 125 and 150 meals each,” Sampey said. “We’ll provide all the packaging for the meals, and we’ll distribute the meals on Thanksgiving morning at Connellsville Area Community Ministries along Crawford Avenue.”

Because City Church of Connellsville couldn’t serve the meals this year, they volunteered to deliver the meals. Sampey said they have 25 drivers working that morning.

Sampey said because the meals will be prepared one or two days prior, the meals will be cold and will need to be heated, and only up to 10 meals can be provided for each home in the vicinity of the Connellsville area School District.

As of Tuesday, almost 500 had signed up to receive meals, though registration is open until Friday.

“We definitely should hit the 500 mark, which is awesome,” said Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln.

Sampey said the dinners are not just for someone in need of a meal. With health officials urging people to stay at home on Thanksgiving instead of attending a family gathering, Sampey said those who find themselves alone are also urged to request one of the meals.

“We want people to know we have enough and can make more if we can,” she said.

Sampey said Connellsville is an amazing community, with the volunteer restaurants and individuals who stepped up to help.

“We knew everybody would be on board immediately,” she said, adding that restaurants in the area also helped with school lunches during the summer even when the restaurants were struggling with the pandemic. ”It’s such a good feeling.”

Lincoln said anyone interested in signing up for a meal can call Shelley at Connellsville City Hall at 724-628-2020, ext 201.

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