Haven of Mercy hosts free Thanksgiving dinner for Johnson City community

Local

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Haven of Mercy hosts a free Thanksgiving Dinner for the Johnson City Community every year.

The holiday season is Haven of Mercy’s busiest time of year.

They usually feed thousands on Thanksgiving, and they plan to do the same this year but with some COVID-19 precautions.

“This time of the year and with what’s going on, everybody’s got this negative feeling and we want to be able to break that in the best way we can,” said pastor and CEO of Heaven of Mercy Grant Rockley.

Johnson City’s Haven of Mercy is bringing fellowship and a warm meal to those who need it most.

“Just a place to come and feel welcomed, be able to have food,” said kitchen manager Bree Teitsort. “You know, there’s a lot of people out here that don’t have anything and we try to provide that for them.”

Because of COVID-19, this Thanksgiving meal looks different from years past.

“Keep your masks on, your gloves on, we got tons of sanitizer, we’re ready,” said Teitsort.

Temperatures were taken at the door, tables and chairs were set up for a limited amount of people. To-go boxes were provided with turkey, ham, and trimmings.

Haven of Mercy even made food deliveries throughout the community and for the Unicoi County Jail.

“If you’re out on the streets or you’re in a struggle right now, for somebody to bring a bright spot into your life is a very meaningful thing I believe,” explained Pastor Rockley.

They’ve been preparing to feed thousands for several days before Thanksgiving.

Several churches and volunteers donated their time Thursday to serve others.

“There’s a lot of donations, there’s so much going on, and we end up with volunteers having to carve the turkeys, get the hams prepared,” said Teitsort. “It’s definitely a week-process.”

Though its a different Thanksgiving for everyone, Haven of Mercy hopes this Thanksgiving meal brings a family atmosphere to the community.

“It’s a happy time when we get to tell them thanks for coming and visiting with us, and they get to tell us thanks for a fabulous meal,” said Pastor Rockley.

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