Free Christmas meals

Jerry Pickerill enjoyed a hot Thanksgiving meal at Springs Rescue Mission, which also served a Christmas meal on Thursday.

Charitable Christmas meals start being served Thursday and continue Friday for those in the community who need a free dinner, don’t want to eat alone or just need some holiday cheer amid a pandemic.

“This year has been hard on all of us, but imagine not having a home for the holidays,” said Travis Williams, spokesman for Springs Rescue Mission, which operates Colorado Springs' largest homeless shelter and a campus with associated services.

"The guests of our shelter have no home in which to celebrate, and many have no family with which to spend this special time,” he said.

Springs Rescue Mission will dish up a holiday feast from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday at its new Samaritan’s Kitchen and Dining Hall, 5 W. Las Vegas St.

This year’s Christmas for All meal will observe COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions and serve 50 diners at a time in the new facility that seats 185 people.

Diners will be “encouraged to socially distance, provided access to hand-washing stations, hand sanitizer and face masks,” Williams said in announcing the event.

COVID cases among homeless at Colorado Springs shelters could be linked to jail outbreak

The Christian organization has for years hosted the banquet at the City Auditorium in downtown Colorado Springs but this year moved the event to its campus.

Since April, the City Auditorium has functioned as an emergency isolation center for homeless people who have COVID symptoms or need to recuperate. About 25 people are there currently, statistics show.

Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army’s R.J. Montgomery Center have active outbreaks of the virus, according to El Paso County Public Health officials, with 34 positive cases among clients and employees of Springs Rescue Mission and seven staff at the Salvation Army’s shelter.

It’s the first outbreak since the pandemic began in March.

The Salvation Army also has changed its procedures for holiday dinners this year. Meals will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday for pickup and prearranged delivery at three sites in the region: the headquarters at 908 Yuma St. in Colorado Springs; Church of the Nazarene, 900 Evergreen Heights Drive in Woodland Park; and Manitou Springs Town Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. The Manitou site also will have a drive-thru.

No transportation to the sites is being offered, but to arrange delivery, call 636-3891.

The Marian House Kitchen, run by Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, will offer its annual holiday meal from noon to 1 p.m. Friday in a hot to-go format outside the center at 14. W. Bijou St.

When El Paso County moved to the red level on the state’s COVID restriction scale, the dining hall had to close for in-person service, said Catholic Charities' spokeswoman Rochelle Schlortt.

The organization serves free meals 365 days a year, though, and is glad “that during times of COVID we’re still able to provide some semblance of normalcy in terms of a holiday meal for those who depend on us for social interaction and sustenance,” she said.

The Marian House Kitchen also provides meals and snacks for people staying at the homeless isolation shelter, including on Christmas, Schlortt said.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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