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Council can’t host Thanksgiving dinner

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

By Charlie Reed
For the News-Gazette
For the first time in decades, the Osceola Council on Aging is not serving Thanksgiving dinner at its headquarters in Kissimmee.
An unexpected flood in September (unrelated to Hurricane Irma) caused significant damage to much of the council’s large facility, where hundreds of seniors congregate and eat daily and also where holiday meals have been served since the Council on Aging opened in Osceola County in 1971.
“It’s been heartbreaking for all of us and for the community, because this has been a tradition for us for years,” said Wilda Belisle, the council’s Meals on Wheels coordinator.
It’s the county’s largest social services organization, helping people, young and old. The kitchen and administration offices are still operating and the council’s Meals on Wheels program continues to deliver thousands of meals to seniors every week, including special holiday meals on Thanksgiving.
But the seniors themselves – most in their 70s and 80s – who gather at the council’s main facility every day for socializing and meals have been temporarily relocated to facilities in St. Cloud and Buenaventura Lakes.
Belisle said the council will be repaired in time for its large annual Christmas celebration for seniors and to serve meals on Dec. 25.
In the meantime, the council has come up with a plan to still feed those in need on Thanksgiving with what they’re calling “Turkey Take-out,” Belisle said.
Struggling families can pick up a fully cooked and prepared meal at the council that day, and there’s still room to get on their list, she said.
Serving food at the Council on Aging on holidays has been tradition for many locals. But their help is still needed, though this year will be different.
“We don’t know how it’s going to go, but we always need volunteers and accept donations,” she said. “We just want to make it a family and community event as always, for everyone to work together on this.”
Other charitable organizations, churches and even local businesses are also giving back this Thanksgiving.
A Place for Grace in St. Cloud is preparing for its third annual Thanksgiving food giveaway next Tuesday and Wednesday, when folks can pick up a ready-to-cook meal for the holiday.
The Christian self-sufficiency ministry works with more than 30 local churches and the St. Cloud Food Pantry to help people with emergency services, clothing and hygiene products, GED assistance and case management. It also offers free lunch to people twice a week through partnerships its affiliate churches.
As with all nonprofits, churches and charitable organizations, volunteers and donations are always appreciated.
“It’s incredibly rewarding for volunteers and the need in this community is going to continue to grow, especially with new residents moving into area after Hurricane Maria,” said Blake Seaholm, executive director for the ministry.
“Whether someone has two hours a month to volunteer or 20 hours a week, their service is always needed and appreciated.”
If you’re interested in giving back to others on Thanksgiving or looking for a meal for your family here’s how to connect:
Osceola County Council on Aging: 407-846-8532. Turkey Take-out/Meals on Wheels. Call ahead to sign up for a hot meal or to volunteer.
A Place for Grace: 407-593-2969. Annual Thanksgiving food giveaway, call ahead to sign up for a hot meal or to volunteer.
The Center of Open Hands/CC Casa del Alfarero: 407-536-9180, 407-962-7041. Thanksgiving meal will be served Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2-6 p.m.
Solid Rock Community Church: 407-847-3500, Thanksgiving meal will be served Tuesday, Nov. 21, noon-2 p.m.
Rainbow Park Free Thanksgiving Meal Wednesday, Nov. 22, 4 p.m. RSVP to 321-333-7248. Park is located off Denn John Lane in Kissimmee.
The Dwelling Place Church (TDP): www.tdpchurchfl.com ,Community Thanksgiving Dinner Tuesday, Nov. 21,
7 p.m.
Celebration Community Church: 407-494-4644 or info@44life.com. The church’s M25 group is looking for volunteers and recipients for a Thanksgiving meal to be held at 5081 Hibiscus Road in Kissimmee. Contact Carter Rivera for more information.
Christian’s Heart of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church: 407-847-2500. Post-Thanksgiving Day Dinner, Friday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m.-
3 p.m.