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Charities Lend A Helping Hand During A Pandemic Holiday Season

Volunteers showing off pies from Mama's Kitchen on Nov. 25, 2020.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Volunteers showing off pies from Mama's Kitchen on Nov. 25, 2020.

With the added economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic, many more people are in need this holiday season. A number of different charities have stepped up to offer services throughout the county.

One of those charities is Mama's Kitchen. At a drive-thru behind the Lafayette Hotel in North Park on Wednesday, several people stopped by to pick up the pies they bought, such as Ashlee Salvador.

Listen to this story by Shalina Chatlani.

“We’re picking up 25 pies from Mama’s Kitchen," she said. "Actually every year our company purchases pies for our employees."

Customers such as Salvador can buy pies from one of Mama’s Kitchen’s 12 contactless drive-thru sites. Proceeds go to helping vulnerable San Diegans, said spokeswoman Jenna Novotny.

“All of the funds raised here today will help to provide nutritious medically tailored home-delivered meals to critically ill neighbors throughout San Diego," Novotny said. "These are people who are battling HIV, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and who especially right now during the pandemic are fearful to leave their homes."

Reported by Shalina Chatlani , Video by Matthew Bowler

And of course, it wasn't just customers who were excited, so were the volunteers.

“Oh, my life is pie," volunteer Phil Ouellette said. “But that's not just what drew me to volunteer. Mama’s Kitchen is a draw because of the work they do in the community.”

Mama’s Kitchen sold out 3,000 pies to help vulnerable San Diego families. But it is not the only one in the giving spirit. At Father Joe's Villages in East Village, many people are happy to get a warm thanksgiving meal.

The atmosphere was certainly contrasted to that of Mama's Kitchen in North Park. Many people in East Village are living with issues such as housing and food insecurity, which have only been magnified during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It means a lot. I don’t have kids of my own, but I do have adopted kids, and they’re in need and the fact that I’m not able to give them all they need to have. This is very important," said San Diego resident Garry Wiley, who stopped by Father Joe's for a meal.

Photo by Shalina Chatlani

Father Joe's Villages CEO Jim Vargas stands in front of the site in East Village during a Thanksgiving meal, Nov. 25, 2020.

At Father Joe’s Villages in East Village, that need is clear. President and CEO Deacon Jim Vargas says around one in six residents in San Diego county are experiencing some level of food insecurity.

“That’s why this meal this year is particularly important. There’s gonna be hundreds of people who are going to be joining us," he said. “Even more importantly than a nutritious meal is the filling of the heart, I want people to feel a sense of connectedness in a time when it’s hard to feel connected because of the pandemic.”

The meal is not being served in a congregate setting, but outside and with social distancing and required masks. Vargas reminds people that fewer funds are coming into Father Joe’s due to the pandemic and urges people to sign up for the group’s annual 5K race, which can be done individually.

“Despite what’s going on around you, you have to be thankful for all that is being done. And there’s a lot being done," Wiley said. "You have to be thankful for that.”

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