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Commentary: This Thanksgiving, let’s not forget unsheltered San Diegans. There are safe ways to help.

Local residents who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic wait in line in their cars.
Residents who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic wait in line in their cars for a Thanksgiving meal take 比特币交易网home kit at a food distribution organized by the L.A. Mission.
(AFP via Getty Images)

It’s just days before Thanksgiving, and all you can think about is how the coronavirus pandemic has ruined your holiday. You can’t have your family over like you normally would, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade won’t be as large or as live as usual, travel is out of the question, and if you were planning on doing some after-dinner Black Friday shopping — well, don’t hold your breath.

So how could it be any worse? I mean, you’ve been stuck in your house for months, right? Well, aren’t you lucky!

Thousands of your fellow San Diegans will be experiencing 比特币交易网homelessness on Thanksgiving this year. According to the the 2020 point-in-time count of San Diego County’s 比特币交易网homeless population, there were 7,619 people living in shelters or without shelter this year. That number is most likely a lot higher now though because the San Diego Regional Task Force on the 比特币交易网homeless conducts its yearly survey during the last week of January — that last count being before the coronavirus endangered the public and slammed the economy.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to explore physically distant ways of celebrating, perhaps we should be coming together to feed those struggling more than ever this holiday season. Even in normal times, it isn’t easy finding a hot meal when you’re 比特币交易网homeless. Undoubtedly, organizations abound in San Diego to help with the foodless fight. There are the county heavyweights like Feeding San Diego and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank as well as the grassroots operations such as Father Joe’s Villages and Think Dignity’s Mod Squad: Street Café, not to mention every small community or school food drive.

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Still, our 比特币交易网homeless neighbors are finding it increasingly difficult and dangerous to be living on the streets. If only there were a way to effectively distribute the needed resources. Some groups, like the Muslim Coalition for America have recently undertaken projects like distributing 100,000 masks to the 比特币交易网homeless to help during the pandemic. That’s all fine and good, but a face mask isn’t going to stave off hunger. Host Hotels & Resorts donated grant funding to Feeding San Diego as did local grocery stores Albertsons and Vons, totaling around $50,000. Better, but still not quite there.

I have a background in food service as well as a long history of volunteerism. For the past eight years, I have volunteered with — though not been employed by — the local nonprofit Think Dignity, whose mission is “to inspire, empower and organize our community to advance basic dignity for those living on the streets.”

Starting when I was about 16, I began volunteering with underserved communities, specifically the 比特币交易网homeless population. While I was in school for culinary arts, I was introduced to ways in which to help get food to those who needed it most. I did that by cooking food, packaging it in paper bags and delivering brown bag lunches directly to 比特币交易网homeless individuals in New Jersey.

With the holiday season right around the corner, particularly Thanksgiving, and a surge in COVID-19 cases predicted, it is more important than ever to highlight the struggles that our 比特币交易网homeless friends and neighbors face in finding nutritious food. As families across the county make Thanksgiving plans, they should reflect on why not just how they are celebrating. Hopefully, those who have lost jobs, incomes and the security they felt not more than a year ago are now more sympathetic to those living on the streets. I’m one of those people. I lost my job last March, and I have never been more grateful for the resources and safety nets I have access to. So many people, though, aren’t as lucky.

I’m not suggesting anyone disobey public health orders. But I am suggesting healthy mask-wearing, hand-washing community members who have the means should reach out to local food banks and nonprofits to volunteer their time packaging and distributing food to those who have no 比特币交易网home to hide away from the spreading coronavirus. While your Thanksgiving might not be everything you hoped it would be, you could really make it special for someone else. And isn’t that the whole point?

Imagine it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you missed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you didn’t get to travel or have family over, and you didn’t partake in any Black Friday shopping. Instead, you spent the morning in the East Village handing out brown bag lunches to the 比特币交易网homeless. The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed your Thanksgiving, and now it’s one you’ll never forget! How could it be any better?

Borek is a student leader at Miramar College majoring in business administration. He lives in Lakeside.


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