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'Showing love' | After a year's hiatus, Mel Trotter Thanksgiving returns

Mel Trotter Ministries will be back at DeVos Place for Thanksgiving in 2021, but there will be protocols in place to keep guests safe.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Beth Fisher describes what's about to happen at DeVos Place as "happy chaos." On Wednesday, Mel Trotter Ministries will take over part of the convention center as it prepares for the return of its annual Thanksgiving dinner.

"The excitement for all of us is just really, really high right now. You know, coming together and being together in person as one community, we're looking forward to it," said Fisher, who serves as the Chief Advancement Officer for Mel Trotter.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Mel Trotter to moved its dinner to a smaller location and fewer people were able to sit down and enjoy their meal in the company of others. The rest had had to enjoy a boxed meal served takeout style. Fisher says being back in person is a big deal.

"There are so many people who are isolated and lonely, especially at the holidays. And so I think what it means is just support and camaraderie and love. It's showing love and compassion to our neighbors in need," Fisher said.

The event is open to people experiencing homelessness, but also anyone in Grand Rapids who is looking for fellowship on Thanksgiving. Doors open at 10 a.m. Thursday and the meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This year, there will be new protocols in place. Temperature checks will be taken at the door. Volunteers must wear masks and so must guests when they are not eating. There will be fewer tables and fewer chairs per table. Food will be served in boxes instead of family style dining.

Mel Trotter has also partnered with Cherry Health to offer a free vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to noon.

Fisher hopes the meal will bring hope to those who are hurting during an especially difficult time in our nation's history.

"We just really want to come alongside and demonstrate the compassion of Jesus for anyone who is experiencing hunger and homelessness, certainly hurting, isolation, or loneliness. That's what this community meal is. It's a symbol of hope."

RELATED VIDEO: Here's where you can get tested for COVID-19 ahead of Thanksgiving

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