Around the holidays, many struggle to put food on the table, much less organize a feast for Thanksgiving. This year, many organizations participated in donating food to needy families — and one of those was Mercy’s Gate.
Mercy’s gate has been passing out Thanksgiving dinner baskets annually for around 20 years.
“We look to serve the working poor, which is roughly 40 percent of our population in El Paso County,” said Jason Dilger, Executive Director for Mercy’s Gate.
Dilger said that this means roughly 375 thousand people in El Paso County are considered the working poor. And the need continues to increase.
“Over the last five years it’s only grown. Last year, we did around six-hundred. This year we have a thousand — a thousand-fifty-five registered for the event,” Dilger said.
Each basket has a full, uncooked Thanksgiving dinner that’s enough food to feed a family of four. It comes with standard Thanksgiving fare such as stuffing, sparkling cider, mashed potatoes, vegetables and, of course, a turkey. Prior to picking up the basket, families were asked in advance to register and state how many people were in the family so their bag size could be adjusted to fit their needs.
“COVID has certainly increased the need. That was already there though. It’s making it more aware,” said Dilger.
Many of the participants expressed gratitude during the event, whether they had been coming since the event began, or just started participating this year.
“We struggled — everybody struggles with COVID — we are just blessed that we have the opportunity to have Thanksgiving and grateful to Mercy’s Gate for that,” said Christa Young, who was making this year her second annual trip to Mercy’s Gate for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Mercy’s Gate said they don’t just do this Thanksgiving campaign, but many other programs and events all year round. If you want to participate or you have a need, visit their website here.