Local charities will provide nearly 60,000 meals throughout Allegheny County on Thanksgiving week.By Shelby Cassesse

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Local charitable organizations across the Pittsburgh area will be providing Thanksgiving meals to thousands of residents in the next week while balancing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning on Monday, Light of Life Rescue Mission will package over 1,800 Thanksgiving dinner boxes for families in need on the North Side.

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After that, on Thanksgiving Day, Light of Life will provide 1,000 meals to those in need along with handing out winter hats, gloves, scarves, and hygiene kits.

Light of Life Director of Development Doug Smith ensures all events can take place safely during their busiest week of the year.

“Obviously, we’ve had to make a lot of changes all throughout the year,” Smith said. “We were prepared very early.”

Light of Life Rescue Mission has remained open throughout the pandemic. Their Thanksgiving outreach typically packs their Northside building.

Smith says that won’t be the case this year, but they still plan to serve as many people as needed.

Meals will either be delivered, served to-go, or inside a heated tent outside the building. Everyone, including volunteers, must have masks on and keep their distance.

“Only a few people will be able to sit and dine outside at a time,” Smith said. “We’ll have multiple lines. We have stickers all over the place for social distancing to make sure that people are maintaining social distancing. We’ll be handing out masks.”

Then, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania will team up with several local companies, government agencies, and local restaurants to provide nearly 60,000 lunches, dinners, and weekend food packs to residents all across Allegheny County.

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Those events will take place across the county Monday through Wednesday.

One of the United Way’s partners for the distribution is Pittsburgh Public Schools.

A total of 4,500 of the meals will be distributed at five sites on Nov. 24 and 25, including Pittsburgh Carmalt, Pittsburgh Faison, Pittsburgh Gifted Center, Pittsburgh Milliones, and Pittsburgh Perry.

Those distributions will be drive-through only and families must practice social distancing and remain in their vehicle during the pickup.

Brooks Broadhurst of Eat n’ Park Hospitality Group and a United Way board member says The United Way has worked to meet an increasing need for meals since the pandemic started.

“We spiked very early in the spring,” he said. “Summertime settled down a little bit, now recently we’ve been having many calls coming in.”

The United Way’s partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools has connected families with meals throughout the pandemic.

It’s just one way local organizations have teamed up in the last eight months to address food insecurity in the community.

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“The amount of food that we have seen needed to go out these last number of months really pushed us to take a look at how we could work with some partners like Pittsburgh Public Schools to help get some food out to those in need,” Broadhurst said.