WINCHESTERWinchester Rescue Mission is working to ensure that everyone who wants can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.

Staff and volunteers at the mission, 435 N. Cameron St., will be preparing a traditional holiday meal featuring turkey and all the fixings that anyone in the area is welcome to enjoy free of charge.

Brandan Thomas, executive director of the mission, said his nonprofit serves a free community meal every day from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Typically about 100 people show up, but he expects that number will be higher on Thursday when the special holiday meal is served starting at 3 p.m.

“We will not be allowing folks to come in and eat like we used to do prior to the pandemic,” Thomas said. “We’ll be giving meals out the back door, which I hate to do because people need that interaction, but at the same time, we need to keep the virus out and keep our guys safe.”

The mission isn’t just catering to people in need of a prepared dinner. Several mission residents have prepared boxes filled with holiday staples — a frozen turkey plus dressing, potatoes, gravy and vegetables — for area residents who could not go shopping but still want to cook for loved ones.

“We’ll give as many boxes away as turkeys that we get,” Thomas said on Friday, when the mission had about 60 turkeys to distribute.

Thomas said the mission’s Thanksgiving meal plans were in great peril last week due to what he called “a turkey drought.” Near the end of the week, though, the drought ended and donated turkeys started raining down on the nonprofit.

“We’ve just watched turkeys arrive like crazy,” he said, noting that turkeys were coming in from individuals, stores, businesses and organizations. “Our goal is, for every turkey we get — with the exception of what we need for our dinner that we’ll serve on Thursday — we’ll give those out with a meal box.”

Anyone who needs a Thanksgiving meal to prepare at home can pick up a box from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the rear entrance to the mission on North Cameron Street.

People who can’t make it to the mission have not been overlooked. On Tuesday, Thomas and an officer with the Winchester Police Department checked on several homebound area residents to see if they had food for Thanksgiving. Those who didn’t were given a holiday meal box or, if they are unable to cook, a promise of a prepared meal delivery on Thursday.

As soon as Thanksgiving ends, Thomas and the mission crew will shift their focus to ways to bring Christmas to those in need through its “Adopt a Resident” program.

They’ve already placed “angel trees” at Mission Auto Repair, 2409 Valley Ave. in Winchester, and the Bank of Clarke County branch at 1508 Senseny Road in Frederick County. The trees contain gift ideas for homeless individuals currently residing at the mission.

“We’ve got four residents that will be moving out in December because they completed their programs and found housing,” Thomas said. “One of our residents — this is incredibly exciting — just bought a house and will be closing on December 13th. ... That’s a testament to the case management stuff that happens here.”

For more information about Winchester Rescue Mission, visit winrescue.org.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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