Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility'It's a blessing': Hundreds line up for Central Union Mission's Thanksgiving giveaway | WJLA
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'It's a blessing': Hundreds line up for Central Union Mission's Thanksgiving giveaway

Hundreds line up for Central Union Mission’s Thanksgiving giveaway (Nick Minock, 7News)
Hundreds line up for Central Union Mission’s Thanksgiving giveaway (Nick Minock, 7News)
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth Meza and her family of six experienced job layoffs and catching the Coronavirus, despite their vigilant efforts to stay COVID-free.

“The pandemic has been really hard,” said Meza, a mother to four kids. “Laid off from work. The virus getting inside the house. It’s been scary. But we came through. It’s been tough, but at the same time, God has been with us every moment of our lives. I’m thankful for that too.”

On Thursday morning, Meza joined hundreds of other DMV area residents in need of a Thanksgiving meal for their families at Central Union Mission’s Thanksgiving giveaway.

“There is a big need,” said Meza. “If this wasn’t here, I’m sure God would provide. But this is here. So because of this, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that God has been good.”

“The line is long,” Meza joked. “It can feel like you’re never going to get to the beginning of the line, but you do. This means a lot. This means food for the table. This means that no one is going to go hungry no one should go hungry. That’s what it means to me.”

Central Union Mission expects to feed hundreds of families this Thanksgiving holiday season.

RELATED: American Farm Bureau releases annual Thanksgiving dinner prices

“We are going to be doing distributions today, through the rest of the week, early next week,” said Joseph Mettimano, the President and CEO of Central Union Mission. “And then next week at our shelter we are going to be doing a full thanksgiving meal to anybody who walks through the doors at our shelter. Probably as many as 300-400 people. On top of that this week and next week the Mission will be providing turkeys, hams, and chickens to anybody who wants them serving 800 families through this process.”

Central Union Mission is 137 years-old and is the oldest private social services agency in Washington, D.C. The organization is privately funded by individuals, churches, organizations, foundations, and more, and isn’t funded by government dollars.

“We do lots of things,” said Mettimano. “We shelter the homeless, we feed the hungry, and on top of that we help people get off the street permanently through job training, education, helping people with their addictions, social support, and a variety of other programs.”

Feed The Children joined Central Union Mission by providing boxes for food and giving surprise gifts to moms which included lotions, soaps, oils, jewelry, and more.

“We did that in an effort to treat the moms that are taking care of all their kids, their husbands, their boyfriends, even their grandmothers,” said Aaron Hazel, the Director of Corporate Partnerships for Feed the Children. “A lot of times we have grandparents raising kids now and so we are able to treat the grandmas too.”

Idis Argueta has volunteered for Central Union Mission for almost ten years. Argueta – like Meza – is originally from El Salvador.

“A lot of people don’t have any job, so they need food,” said Argueta. “That’s why we see a lot of people outside. I’m blessed to be part to the Central Union Mission.”

READ MORE: Prince George's Co. church set to give away Thanksgiving bounty for those in need

DeBre’ McCrea has lived in Washington, D.C. for more than three years and was also able to stock up on full provisions of Thanksgiving prepped food thanks to the Thanksgiving giveaway.

“It’s a blessing, truly a blessing,” said McCrea. “A lot of people can’t get food on the table. It’s a blessing. This organization to help out in this time of need. I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for what the people have done for me. I thank God everybody else is getting fed.”

On Thursday morning, several people explained to 7News how higher prices for food and gas have made this holiday season more difficult for them.

“I think it’s crazy to jack the prices up like that in the middle of the pandemic,” said McCrea. “A lot of people are living on a fixed income. A lot of people not getting any money at all.”

Mettimano said he’s heard prices of some food items have increased by 25 percent since this time last year.

“The cost of everything has gone up,” he said. “Whether it’s food or the transportation for getting food here. All of these costs have gone up thanks to our faithful donors, whether its groups that are donating food or people who are donating cash, people have remained generous through this process so we are thankful to have robust numbers this year as we’ve had in the past.”

“It is very depressing to go into a store and see how much things are, but this [Central Union Mission’s Thanksgiving Giveaway] is helping,” said Meza. “This is helping! So I’m thankful.”

LIST: In need this Thanksgiving? Here's where to get free groceries, turkey in the DC area

Central Union Mission is expecting to do more food distributions at the below times at 3194 Bladensburg Ave. NE Washington, D.C.

-Monday, November 22: 10am-1pm (or until supplies last)

-Tuesday, November 23: 10am-1pm (or until supplies last)

-Wednesday, November 24 10am- 1pm (or until supplies last)

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They are also looking for volunteers and donations. If you’d like to help or contribute, click here.

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