“This year there are so many families who typically may not have needed any assistance during these holidays, but can’t work and just don’t have the means to provide a Thanksgiving dinner because of COVID,” Corey Marionneaux, founder of the Black Men Coalition of Dane County, tells Madison365. “The Black Men Coalition of Dane County wanted to be a part of making sure every individual and family should still be able to enjoy a holiday that brings loved ones together. We are about building foundations.”
This Thanksgiving, a coalition of partners including the Black Men Coalition of Dane County (BMC of Dane County), Urban Triage, Beacon House and Hawk’s Bar & Grill will be providing a Thanksgiving meal along with blankets and packages of essential items to a population of people often forgotten. The organizers saw that a lot of the normal places for people to get meals on Thanksgiving weren’t offering them and decided to step up and pull this event together.
“We called around to see who was offering meals on Thanksgiving and no one was,” Brandi Grayson, founder of Urban Triage, tells Madison365. “So many places are closed down because of COVID. So we pulled a bunch of community partners together and just wanted to take the opportunity to fill that gap because that is the work of Urban Triage as well as the Black Men Coalition.”
Thanksgiving meals for those experiencing homelessness will take place at Hawk’s Bar & Grill on Thursday, Nov. 26, 1-3 p.m. The organizers are hoping that the community will help spread the word about the event.
“There are a lot of families out there – particularly this year because of COVID – that just need a little help to enjoy their Thanksgiving because of the fact that they may not have been working or they have too many bills and can’t afford it,” Marionneaux says. “Then there are just so many homeless people in Dane County, as well. We just felt like there were some people we could reach out to in Madison to collaborate with to help us help more people.”
“It was actually the Black Men Coalition that reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we heard you’re about to launch your homelessness outreach initiative’ and we started talking about hosting this event and what part each of us would be responsible for,” Grayson adds. “I pulled in another organization, Unique Madness [Social Club], which is part of our Dane County Collaboration of Black Service Providers and they will support the event by volunteering at the event and helping us create the toiletry bag.”
The event will be held at Hawk’s Restaurant, located on State St. in downtown Madison, who will be donating supplies, tables and of course, the space.
“The owner [Hawk Sullivan] is always really active and ready to assist when it comes to community support so we really appreciate him,” Grayson says.
“As soon as I mentioned it to Hawk, he was immediately in and that was so cool. And we started bouncing ideas off each other,” adds Marionneaux.
The Beacon House stepped up to donate 50 already-prepared meals with bottles of Gatorade. Rivers Food Pantry will be donating food items and side dishes for the event. “The Black Men Coalition and their volunteers will actually be cooking the meals,” Grayson says.
“Our goal is to give out 100 meals and 100 bags of toiletries and at least 50 blankets. We’re asking people to donate items to Urban Triage and they can just drop them off at our office,” Grayson adds. “We have a donation bin, too. We’re asking that everything they drop off and donate be brand new because of COVID. We’re looking for socks, hand sanitizer, wipes, hand warmers.”
The event will have an emphasis on keeping everybody safe and taking all COVID precautions.
“We will definitely be masked up and protected and we will make sure that we have the correct amount of spacing and less than 10 people gathered at one time,” Marionneaux says. “We will have a couple of tables set up outside and people can come by and have a warm meal ready for them, an essential bag, gloves and a blanket if they need it.”