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Taking care of frontline workers

When a local barbeque restaurant donated brisket to The Salvation Army in Monessen, Pa., Captain Susan Thwaite wondered who would appreciate such a delicacy.

Then she thought about the healthcare workers battling COVID-19 at Monongahela Valley Hospital.

Thwaite said the brisket was the centerpiece for 40 meals, which also included green beans, egg noodles, dessert, and drinks.

“They were very nice meals compared to the other feedings we’re doing,” she said. “That was something special. We just wanted the hospital workers to know we were thinking of them. We wanted to brighten their day, give them some hope, and let them know we’re praying for them.”

The restaurant, called The Pasta Shoppe, has a smoker and made the brisket. A small coffee shop, the Perked Up Café, provided chocolate chip cookies for the meal.

Monessen, which is about an hour south of Pittsburgh, is in Westmoreland County, which has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, Thwaite said.

The corps has risen to the challenge by delivering 600 “heat-and-eat” meals a week in the community via canteen. The corps, which normally delivers hot meals to children who are out of school in the summer, resurrected the program as soon as COVID-19 forced schools to close in Pennsylvania.

“We knew being out of school would be a hardship for many families,” Thwaite said. “We’ve been able to take meals to two or three high rises. We’ve just been all over the place. We go to eight different spots.

“We’re like the ice cream truck—only better,” she added. “The kids get really excited. It brings normalcy to their lives. It also gives us an opportunity to see the kids and check in on how they’re doing and see if they need anything.”

During the week of Easter, a board member donated three pallets of candy and the kids enjoyed good food and a toy.

by Robert Mitchell

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