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‘Please pray for a Thanksgiving miracle’: Quincy Thanksgiving distribution receives $25,000 in donations

Rick Doane, Executive Director at Interfaith Social Services, hands out a roasting pan and gift card during United Way’s Thanksgiving Project Saturday.
Rick Doane, Executive Director at Interfaith Social Services, hands out a roasting pan and gift card during United Way’s Thanksgiving Project Saturday.John Gillooly/PEI

They prayed for a pre-Thanksgiving miracle.

Interfaith Social Services in Quincy was set to give out gift cards and meal baskets to 1,200 households Saturday, as a way to make sure those in need would be able to have Thanksgiving dinner.

But a last-minute snafu threatened the plan. The nonprofit didn’t receive all of the items they needed to take part in annual Thanksgiving Project organized by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley.

“The line was all the way down the street into Quincy Center,” Rick Doane, executive director of Interfaith, said in a telephone interview Saturday evening. “I knew we had a definite end where it was all going to run out.”

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Doane decided to call out to Facebook, asking for prayers and describing the desperate situation. “Cars lined up down the street, thousands of people are depending on this assistance. Please pray that it arrives in time. Please pray for a Thanksgiving miracle,” he wrote.

The prayer was answered.

Within hours, they received $25,000 in donations, Doane said.

One person even donated $10,000 and Cambridge Savings Bank donated $5,000. Others donated money using the Venmo app and some dropped off turkeys, he said.

“It’s prayers answered,” Doane said of the swift response. “We asked for prayers and we saw our community put their faith in action and they stood up and donated and collected and made it all possible.”

The team was able to distribute items to those who had pre-registered, Doane said. Staff and volunteers gave food out to about 150 households per hour, he said.

Quincy was one of 23 communities taking part in the Thanksgiving Project that provided help to 15,000 families, according to the United Way.

The pandemic upended the usual distribution off meal bags because volunteers could not gather in large numbers to make them up. “We had to make the difficult decision to cancel our in-person volunteer packing events in order to keep everyone as safe as possible,” Brigid Boyd, a United Way spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.

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The change meant that a few communities, including Randolph and Weymouth, received enough food to give out. But other communities, such as Quincy, came up short.

Instead of packing food bags to go, the Thanksgiving Project provided a combination of turkeys and gift cards to grocery stores - $35 for those who got turkeys and $50 for those who didn’t.

“We’re proud that, particularly during this time of unprecedented need, we remained committed to the mission of the Thanksgiving Project,” Boyd said.

Interfaith is set to have another distribution of food closer to Thursday. By then, the nonprofit believes it will have provided help to 3,000 to 4,000 people who “are going to sit down to a Thanksgiving meal, thanks to these efforts,” Doane said.



Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.