ST. LOUIS — Randy Allen, homeless for nearly a decade, said the coronavirus pandemic has made it harder to get food or find a place to shower this year.
“I can’t get no help. I can’t take a shower, I’m not eating good, I’m not sleeping good,” Allen, 38, said. Most recently he said he’s been sleeping in a parking garage.
City officials and volunteers for the homeless have said the pandemic presents difficulties in helping the homeless. Shelters have put in social distancing measures, and some who would regularly volunteer have held off this year because of health concerns.
But on Thanksgiving morning, Allen and hundreds of other unhoused people lined up in downtown St. Louis to receive a warm meal, courtesy of New Life Evangelistic Center. Locust Street between 14th and 15th streets was roped off, and people lined up, socially distanced, to receive a packaged meal of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, bread, green beans and mini pies. They were also given bus tickets and backpacks full of supplies such as hand sanitizer, warm socks, hats, gloves and a hygiene kit.
“I feel really blessed to get something to eat,” Allen said. “I didn’t know I’d get something today.”
New Life has held a Thanksgiving celebration for the homeless every year, and it isn’t the first year they’ve done it outdoors, because their downtown shelter was closed down in 2017. But this year, with coronavirus precautions in place, the process of getting permits was trickier than ever.