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Community Dinner holiday meals canceled due to COVID-19

Thanksgiving and Christmas meals provided to those in need by Community Dinner, formerly Up All Night, will not be prepared this year due to COVID-19 safety concerns, according to Jimmy Edwards, president of Community Dinner. Edwards said it wasn’t possible to host the dinners and comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“What we try to do it makes sure that each individual is safe … and to me right now, that’s not a safe thing to do, to have the dinner,” Edwards said.

The dinner has taken place for years, with volunteers cooking traditional holiday fare, serving plates on location and delivering meals. Meals are provided on site to anybody who needs them and delivered to home-bound and elderly residents. 

The popular dinners occurred last year on both holidays at the old Cannon Street School, with hundreds of people fed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Edwards said the difficult decision to cancel was made by him. The events often draw 70 or 80 volunteers, he said. The problem of not knowing whether volunteers may have the virus led Edwards to cancel. 

Going into homes was also a concerning prospect, he said.

Edward said he has already informed some volunteers who contacted him, and that they feel comfortable with the decision.

“I don’t want to get anyone affected I want to try to keep people safe. And by me doing this, I can’t keep someone safe,” Edwards said. “Yes, it’s hard. It was a hard decision because … our sick, our shut-ins, and our senior citizens, they look forward to this dinner.”