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SAN DIEGO – Dozens of volunteers with the Salvation Army gathered on Thanksgiving Day to spread a little holiday cheer by serving up meals to unhoused San Diego residents.

“I actually really appreciate it,” said Brittany Nocita, a homeless mother of two. “It’s been hard the last few months. We’ve all been struggling. Usually, we’re with our parents, but not this year.”

But as with last year, the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving meal for the homeless looked a bit different than before due to the pandemic. It’s meant the charity has had to adapt while still reaching out to some of the community’s most vulnerable citizens, Lt. Col. Lee Lescano of the Salvation Army said.

That includes moving its dinner tables outdoors and providing an extra level of sanitation.

“The Salvation Army has been serving the Thanksgiving dinner for 38 years,” Lescano said. “But like last year, we’ve had to adapt. This year, we’re doing an outside giveaway meal, but also it’s a chance here downtown for people to sit down and have a meal as well.”

Volunteers like San Diego police Chief David Nisleit say they’re not letting the pandemic stop them from making Thanksgiving dinner special for those in need.

“We’ve dealt with the pandemic,” Nisleit said. “We’ve dealt with a lot, but there’s still a lot to be grateful for and it’s an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate.”

Some 50 volunteers were prepared to serve a total of 1,800 meals at three sites in San Diego County. The Salvation Army told FOX 5 they couldn’t pull it off without volunteers or donor support. 

For Nocita and her children, it’s truly a blessing.

“To be thankful for everything that they do got and we just started praying because we’ve had people pray for us,” says Nocita. “It’s helped us a lot actually.”