For many of us, Thanksgiving is all about food, family and football. But if you're among the more than 321,800 Twin Cities-area residents who live in poverty1 or experience food insecurity,2 Thanksgiving is just another Thursday.
St. Paul-based Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1902. Since 1958, it has provided hot and healthy holiday meals to thousands of homeless, homebound, hungry, hurting families and individuals. In 2016, it provided 60,000 Thanksgiving meals.
According to Brian Molohon, vice president of development for Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, the reason is simple: "Hope begins with a meal," he says. "Our Thanksgiving food drive and distribution isn't about solving the area's hunger problems, although it would be wonderful if it could.
"It's about helping people rebuild and restore their dignity by providing a warm meal given and prepared with love," he adds. "And connecting them to other programs we offer, such as education and substance abuse counseling."
Partners on a mission
Earlier in the year, Thrivent community engagement leaders and representatives from both the Central Minnesota and the East Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin Thrivent Member Networks met with Molohon.
The two faith-based organizations, who have worked together many times throughout their histories, partnered with the mission to make an even bigger impact on its 2017 Thanksgiving food drive and distribution.
The result is the Heart for Hunger program sponsored by the Central Minnesota and the East Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin Thrivent Member Networks. The Heart for Hunger program is proving fruitful. So far, people's generosity has yielded:
- Donations for more than 18,500 meals.
- More than $14,000 raised by Thrivent Action Teams.
- More than 13,000 Thrivent Choice Dollars® directed by members.
- More than 5,300 pounds of food collected.
But more support is needed to reach the mission's goals. Here's how you can help:
- Donate directly to Union Gospel Mission.
- Collect food items – Gather friends, family and fellow church members to collect nonperishable food items to support the Mission's annual Thanksgiving food distribution.
- Eligible Thrivent Members can direct available Choice Dollars®. Direct now.
Food drop-off sites
Funds and food items (PDF) collected can be delivered to:
Thrivent Financial Golden Valley
701 Xenia Avenue South, Suite 550
Golden Valley, MN 55416
Thrivent Financial Waconia
129 W Main St.
Waconia, MN 55387
Thrivent Financial Burnsville
12700 Nicollet Ave Suite 120-b
Burnsville, MN 55337
Thrivent Financial Roseville
2780 Snelling Ave N. Suite 201
Roseville, MN 55113
Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities Central Services
435 University Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55130
1 Minnesota Compass, led by Wilder Research, 2017.