Niles nonprofit aims to provide 100 Thanksgiving Day meals

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, November 25, 2020

NILES — Spero House is preparing 100 meals for those in need of a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.

Spero House’s volunteers, located at 24 N. Fourth St., hope to be busy on Thanksgiving giving out hot meals for people to enjoy from 2 to 4 p.m., or when the meals run out. John Lee, Spero House’s founder, said the original plan was a meal in-house, but with COVID-19 concerns rising, the Christian nonprofit team pivoted its plans to a meal pick-up outside its doors.

“We had planned to have people indoors and create a homey environment, but we realized this was the best vision,” Lee said. “We went for more meals and handing them out.”

The meal Lee said the volunteers and organizers are working on will have a traditional protein like turkey or ham, homemade mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce and desserts like pumpkin pie and brownies. Coffee and water will also be provided.

“There’s going to be a lot of people involved in prepping the food, and there will be at least four [onsite] to be handing it out,” Lee said.

The food prep and day-of volunteers are a big part of the planning, but also the donations and community support.

On Tuesday morning, Sanya Vitale, Niles community development director, dropped off food donations from the city of Niles to Spero House to support its Thanksgiving Day efforts. Lee said two more residents donated Thanksgiving meal kits and clothing for Spero House’s ongoing mission to help the Niles community.

“The city of Niles has blessed us,” Lee said. “We had intended to buy all the meals, but Sanya Vitale ended up buying everything to donate. We had a few loose ends, but everything was covered by the donations. That’s no small thing. There’s a lot of food involved.”

Lee is excited about being able to provide meals to residents in need on Thanksgiving. He said one of Spero House’s biggest concerns is to keep everyone safe while volunteers provide the meals.

“We want to acknowledge COVID-19 precautions,” Lee said. “Our biggest concern is that there is a backup, and people end up in line on top of each other.”

The volunteers will be setting up in front of Spero House, with protection from the weather, and handing out the meals until they run out.

Lee said if Spero House runs out, volunteers hope to be able to direct community members who show up to another resource if need be.