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Hold the turkey, service provider for the homeless tells donors as virus intensifies needs

One80 Place

Residents of One80 Place sit in front of the facility, which provides services for the homeless, March 19, 2020. Brad Nettles/Staff

One of the few Charleston-area charitable organizations positioned to accept food donations is asking benefactors to refrain from dropping off turkeys this year.

Eight years after launching its popular “Turkey and a $20” campaign, One80 Place has withdrawn its request for holiday poultry, citing the changing nature of its services.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the homelessness services provider has scaled back its on-site meal program and switched to placing and supporting clients in individual housing, such as motel rooms. The shift is intended to reduce the infection risk associated with communal living.

“We are still admitting people into our shelter, but we are doing it in more strategic way,” says chief development officer Marco Corona, adding that One80 hasn’t recorded a single positive test since reopening in June.

In a typical year, One80 Place would collect hundreds of turkeys during Thanksgiving week. Its community kitchen would freeze the birds for use throughout the year. According to Corona, One80 Place in non-pandemic conditions can serve 150,000 people on a $7,000 budget because of its volume of food donations.

But with more clients now eating on their own, One80 Place needs grocery store gift cards instead of turkeys.

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“Right now, the greatest need is in homes,” Corona says.

And Corona stresses, the need is quite great. One80 Place is serving 23 percent more people than it served in November 2019. “We’re serving more individuals than we have probably at any time in our history,” he says.

Corona acknowledges that some community groups are emotionally invested in the turkey drive.

“This is their event. They want to give their dollars and turkeys,” he says.

The good news for those generous donors is One80 Place is still taking dollars: It hopes to generate $30,000 through its Thanksgiving campaign. But those monetary contributions should be accompanied by $20 grocery gift cards rather than meat.

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Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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