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Preparations underway for the 30th Thanksgiving Inter-Faith Dinner

Organizers are putting safety precautions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic so they can feed people in the community.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Basilica of St. Peter and First Baptist Church of Columbia are getting prepared for the 30th annual Thanksgiving Inter-Faith Dinner.

With the coronavirus pandemic, it's forced many organizers to figure out different ways to hold events safely.

This includes the Thanksgiving Inter-Faith Dinner held by two churches in the Columbia community.

Traditionally the family style dinner is held at the Coliseum at the University of South Carolina, but they're making changes due to the pandemic.

"The changes basically are we're not going to be serving at the Coliseum anymore because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we're working very closely with the Baptist church who co-sponsors this dinner," said Robert Keeder, the coordinator for the event.

This year's event will now be at the Basilica of St. Peter church located on Assembly Street in Downtown Columbia.

Keeder has helped put together this event for the entirety of its existence.

"Our decision was to obviously not feed in an enclosed area and we're going to be going and inviting our guests off the streets to come and get a bag turkey dinner and desserts and drinks," explained Keeder.

Because of the pandemic, the coordinator says they're also encouraging people who are alone or if they have a very small family, to come to the church to get a meal.

There will be 200 turkeys provided this year. They'll start cooking them the week of Thanksgiving.

The meals will include turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, squash, biscuits, desserts and other Thanksgiving favorites.

The churches plan on feeding 500 to 1,000 people with families picking up meals at the Basilica of St. Peter Church. They will also be feeding 1,000 more people by delivering dinners to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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Another thing that will be impacted for this year's event is the entertainment side of things. Typically they have choirs sing, balloons and other things but this year they will not be able to due to space and safety.

"Obviously because of not having the availability of the Coliseum, all that has to be sort of cut back so now we won't be able to have all the entertainment so to speak that we have at the Coliseum but we'll still entertain," said Keeder. "We'll have something that they can enjoy seeing, hearing or doing. We'll come up with that in the next three or four days."

They are asking people to practice social distancing. Tape has already been placed down on the ground to help with spacing people in line. Folks should also wear a mask when coming to get their food. The churches will provide a mask if someone doesn't have one.

"Be safe, be aware and be concerned for your fellow man," said Keeder. "There's goodness in this country. There is love and there is goodness in this country. You hear a lot of things on TV nowadays if you watch TV a lot, about a lot of bad things that's happening in 2020. But just feel good that you can make a difference in one's life and you can do it right here in your hometown of Columbia, South Carolina."

The event will be Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm.

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