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Guiding Light to provide grab-and-go meals, cold weather items to those in need

An estimated 250 meals will be handed out Sunday. Those interested in helping can offer to volunteer or donate hats, gloves and coats to Guiding Light.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids nonprofit Guiding Light will be making sure everyone has holiday cheer, a festive meal and warm clothes this season.

On Sunday, Dec. 19, grab-and-go meals will be available free of charge outside the Guiding Light building at 255 S Division Avenue. An estimated 250 meals will be handed out. Volunteers will also provide coats, gloves and hats to anyone needing cold weather items.

While this annual event was canceled last year due to COVID-19, Guiding Light development director Starla McDermott says they are returning with extra precautions.

"With COVID, we did not do it last year, and we're still being pretty cautious," McDermott said. "So we just decided this year that we would still provide the meals — ham, green beans, potatoes, stuffing — but we're gonna do it in grab-and-go meals."

McDermott said the decision to hand out both holiday meals and cold weather gear was made because roughly 25 people a day knock on the nonprofit's doors asking for warm clothes.

"We see that need all winter long. And this time, we just decided we would just make it available one day and we'd still have people coming in," McDermott said. "But we decided we would have an extra table just because we are seeing people constantly coming to our door asking for these cold weather items."

Guiding Light's men's program gives struggling men the opportunity to get back on their feet. Some of those men will be volunteering on Saturday and Sunday to prepare food and hand out meals.

"Now this is their chance," McDermott said of the men volunteering. "We have other volunteers that are coming, but this is their chance to begin to give back and being reengaged in our community."

While volunteers are gearing up to hand out meals and winter items on Sunday, extra volunteers are still needed. Anyone interested can contact Crystal at 616-451-0236. 

Monetary donations also support the nonprofit and help pay for the food. Lastly, winter items are always needed at the nonprofit to help those in need get through the winter.

To learn more about Guiding Light or to donate, click here.

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