It was a happy Thanksgiving at Kelowna Gospel Mission on Monday afternoon as 60 residents lined up for the annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Executive director Carmen Rempel says that this year, giving thanks has more meaning than ever.
"In 2020, if we have an opportunity to celebrate, we're going to take that opportunity and take a moment and celebrate, so Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for us to gather together, have a meal together that's a little bit special."
They've done their best to keep residents safe at this year's event by implementing specific COVID-19 procedures, says Rempel.
Meals were served plated by the Mission's Mobile Outreach Team instead of the usual buffet style, limits were placed on how many people could be seated at each table and residents were required to wear masks when not eating.
In previous years, the Gospel Mission has welcomed hundreds of guests from the community for their Thanksgiving meals.
However, another precaution added to this year's celebration in light of COVID-19 was restricting that to the 60 men who live at the Mission.
To-go containers were provided out the back of the building to other local residents who were in need this Thanksgiving, including those living with disabilities or low-income.
About 90 meals were also delivered to supportive housing units around town.
"Our kitchen staff have gone above and beyond this year because they've had to individually wrap every single thing," says Rempel.
"I think we've got little individual servings of pickles - you know all sera-wrapped - but then put on the nice crystal plates. We're still trying to get the presentation in there, but everything is all COVID-19 friendly and separated ... it's been a lot of work, the team has done an incredible job."
Kelowna Gospel Mission resident Perry Burge was very impressed with the way the team has handled this year's dinner.
It's the first year he's been in residence at the Mission, and says sharing a meal with the rest of his 'new' family helped him feel very grateful this Thanksgiving.
"Today is usually about family. For me, my family's all back on the east coast so this is my family for today. The staff are amazing here and it's just, friends, family, so it's really nice. It's a very nice place if anybody's down on their luck and needs a bit of help, I'd recommend this place to anyone. I'm new to this, it's the first time it's happened to me. I'm not taking it as a bad thing, just a stepping stone to something better."
As for the food, Burge says it's been a fantastic spread.
"Delicious. The cook is really good here - she's number one."
To donate to the Kelowna Gospel Mission or find out more, visit the website.