Each year, Northwestern Settlement hosts its traditional Thanksgiving dinner just before the holiday. This year will be no different â€¦ alright, perhaps a little different.
The holiday tradition typically brings together Northwestern Settlement familiesâ€”serving more than 400. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has partnered with Catering by Michaels and Associated Bank to feed 2,800 people with a traditional dinner to-go.
“For members of the Settlement community, the annual Thanksgiving dinner helps make the holidays bright. While we’re unable to gather to physically share a meal this year, our board is proud of supporting the distribution of 2,800 meals to families served by the Settlement’s services,â€ť says Chris Beer, a member of the Winnetka Board of the Northwestern Settlement and co-chair of the groupâ€™s upcoming gala.
Each Thanksgiving meal box will be packed with delicious herb roasted turkey breast and all the most loved side dishesâ€”turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, cornbread with cranberries and raisins, rosemary herb stuffing, traditional mashed potatoes, and a sauteed autumn vegetable medley. Every dish is made from scratch by the Catering by Michaels culinary team and each box will serve a family of fourâ€”plus leftovers.
â€śWe have always been committed to giving back and knew it was more important than ever to try and find a way to make our annual Thanksgiving donation happen this year,â€ť says Lisa Ware, director of business development at Catering by Michaels.
Carrying on the idea of the meal boxes, the Winnetka Board of the Northwestern Settlement has pivoted its fundraising efforts during the pandemic. The group typically holds its spectacular annual gala in February, but in 2021 it is plans to host â€śGala to Go: A Virtual Benefit for Northwestern Settlement,â€ť providing families boxed meals to enjoy at home along with a virtual program.
The Thanksgiving to-go donation has also helped Catering by Michaels bring back more than 15 employees to help prepare the meals.
“COVID-19 has destroyed our industry and continues to have a profound impact on our company. We have been hit hard, really hard, but there are so many people that are in need more than us. This donation will help so many, but it will also allow us to bring back more than employees who otherwise wouldnâ€™t have work, to help us cook and pack all this food. We wouldnâ€™t be able to do this without a very generous donation from the Winnetka Board of the Northwestern Settlement, Associated Bank, the support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and personal donations from our loyal clients.â€ť explains Ware.
Itâ€™s safe to say that despite the many challenges this year, the spirit of giving is alive on the North Shore. Perhaps, Beer says it best,â€ť Together, weâ€™re serving meals and weâ€™re serving hope during a difficult time.â€ť
Thanksgiving meal boxes will be distributed to families on Saturday, November 21, in the Northwestern Settlement gymnasium. To support or donate to the Northwestern Settlement, text the word SETTLEMENT to 243725, or visit northwesternsettlement.org.