Pandemic restrictions can't slow down the Union Gospel Mission's turkey giveaway

Drive-by pickup is the mission's 63rd annual event
Union Gospel Mission volunteers load up car with Thanksgiving food in annual giveaway
Drive-by Thanksgiving meal give-away underway at the Union Gospel Mission Photo credit Entercom

When you’ve been giving away turkeys and all the Thanksgiving fixings to needy folks for six decades, a little thing like a worldwide pandemic isn’t going to slow things down.

The Union Gospel Mission’s 63rd annual Thanksgiving food distribution got underway Monday morning, and the service was as smooth as ever… even if the folks picking up their frozen birds and bags of potatoes had to do it from their cars.

Frozen turkeys from Union Gospel Mission
Frozen turkeys from Union Gospel Mission Photo credit Entercom

The line began building after the sun came up, and it stretched both directions along University Ave. in front of the mission’s headquarters on St. Paul’s east side.

Drivers patiently waited for the line to move, then followed the signs that had them snake through the parking lot in two separate lines.  At the end of each line, volunteers devised their own system to transfer the food from boxes and pallets and into back seats and trunks.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Bethany Gladhill, who was among the early arrivals and only had to wait about ten minutes before she was off.

“They’ve been really speedy,” she said “It’s a great thing for them to do.”

There’s even a separate line for the few people who didn’t drive to the event.

Even the 80-some volunteers are getting something out of their efforts, one of them saying that she’s learning more about hatchbacks than she ever knew.

Car's trunk full of Thanksgiving food from Union Gospel Mission
Car's trunk full of Thanksgiving food from Union Gospel Mission Photo credit Entercom

Each bag and turkey feeds family of five and is valued at $35.

“It helps out,” said Rick Sager.  “It’s a great deal, it’s wonderful.”

Families had to sign up online to reserve their food, and the distribution runs through Tuesday night.