Thanksgiving meal given to dozens of unsheltered people

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A last-minute change of plans gave homeless people at the Veteran’s Coming Home Center a great Thanksgiving meal.

People from the University Heights Neighborhood Association (UHNA) came together to feed several unsheltered people.

The event began early this morning at their homes, preparing and cooking the food. The food was then transported to the Veterans Coming Home Center. 

Charlie Anderson, with the UHNA, and cooked two turkeys at his residence.

“Started them about 9 o’clock this morning, smoked them for about 6 hours,” said Anderson.

Donelle Blubaugh with UHNA said she was happy to help by cooking potatoes.

“It’s going to feed folks in dinner tonight,” said Blubaugh.

Blubaugh said she has never cooked this much food at once.

“We are making a giant mountain of mashed potatoes,” Blubaugh said, “I’ve had 20 for thanksgiving, but I don’t think it took 15 pounds of potatoes.”

All the food was supposed to go to the COVID-19 unit at CoxHealth, but when they realized the healthcare workers were unable to accept it, they weren’t going to let this food go to waste.

Marti Knauer said she and the other members of the UHNA were discussing what to do with all the prepared food when she suggested they give it to the homeless.

“I quickly spoke up,” said Knauer, “and suggested that we pass it on to our unsheltered friends. We decided to make lemonade out of lemons. And here we are today, and I’m so happy about this.”

They brought it down to the Veterans Coming Home Center.

“It’s my pleasure that our Neighborhood Association prepared this meal for you tonight,” announced Knauer to everyone at the Veterans Coming Home Center. “If you know anything about me, you know that I never say a prayer, but I sing a prayer.”

Knauer sang her prayers, and people like Richard Wheeler enjoyed their meals.

“I’ve been in Springfield like seven years, I’ve been homeless on and off, and the VA’s been a really great place to help us out a lot,” said Richard Wheeler, who received a thanksgiving meal tonight. “It’s awesome to get a meal like this, and all the love I feel from coming here too.”

Knowing this meal came from the community meant a lot to the recipients.

“I think it’s awesome they do that for us,” said Wheeler, “show the love and support that they show for us, shows us they don’t just sweep us under the carpet somewhere.”

If you are homeless and need some more help this winter, visit

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