By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a special day for the elderly and the homeless in Miami as volunteers, organizations, and charities fanned out to provide Thanksgiving meals for the elderly and the homeless.

Amid growing food insecurity prompted by the Coronavirus, many said they were especially grateful for the meals, and on this one day for awhile, the events helped ease some of their anxiety.

The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana continued a 30-year tradition of helping the elderly with Thanksgiving meals. The Kiwanis Club and more than a dozen volunteers served 150 elderly people at Smathers Plaza, a pubic housing facility for the elderly.

Because of restrictions tied to the Coronavirus, they did not dine together. After living up in a hallway, they received their meals to go that included Turkey, stuffing, dessert, vegetables, and rice.

One resident, Jane Rodriguez, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It’s a lovely thing and this food is good. This year has been harder than ever. We do what we can.”

Ana Lilia said, “We feel very good about this because we are not able to get out. We are very happy for this and thank you very much.”

Another resident, Maria Fabricio, said, “I feel so happy now. This is very good.”

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Jorge Rodriguez, the President of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, said, “We have to help the elderly in out community. These people live here and they can not leave on their own. Because of the COVID pandemic this is even more meaningful because people can’t even go out because they are exposed.”

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Lebena said she felt compelled to join the volunteers.

“I think it’s been really difficult at the time this year for all these people,” she said. “And I feel really good about helping other people in need. That made me feel really good.”

Those sentiments were echoed by those helping the homeless at the Miami Rescue Mission. This was the 45th year that the homeless were given Thanksgiving meals and this year was particularly special as they were also given hygiene bags, haircuts and clothing.

Head Chef Calvin McFadden said he had been preparing the Thanksgiving feast for 17 years.

He took CBS4 inside his kitchen and said, “We got roast turkey, mashed potatoes. We have string beans and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It’s very important for me to do this because a lot of people got sick this year and we have to give something back to the community. It makes me feel good. For more than 17 years I have been giving back.”

Marilyn Brummitt, the Vice President of the Miami Rescue Mission, said, “We have done this every year for the last 45 years. For my husband and I, this is a calling. It is a mission from God. It is not just a job. This is our mission. And I would tell people don’t give up. Don’t give up, no matter what.”

Elsewhere, the Camillus House celebrated its 60th annual Thanksgiving day event at its main campus with some 40 volunteers helping feed the homeless.

Meals on Wheels of South Florida celebrated its 32nd annual Thanksgiving home meal delivery program and the Salvation Army of Broward served 500 meals-to-go to those in need.

Peter D'Oench