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As he waited in a long line outside Concord's Monument Crisis Center, Keith Chesterman knows he's not alone this Thanksgiving. Not this year, when demand for food, amid a deepening pandemic is surging at non-profits like Monument.
"Without this, we wouldn't have a Thanksgiving," said Chesterman. "It does give a person a little bit of comfort that you're not alone, it also though, is sad. Where else can anyone go nowadays? This is great, this is a wonderful thing, but where can you go when everything falls apart?"
Chesterman is 74-years-old and retired. Dino Rose is just 25 and living on the streets, while taking college classes.
"It's already hard being homeless, going to school," said Rose as he stood in line wearing a Santa hat, "Trying to figure out where you're going to sleep and where you're going to eat at."
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Many of these people have never been in a line like this before.
"Triple the numbers that we saw prior to the pandemic," said Sandra Scherer, Monument's Executive Director. "They're your next-door neighbor, people who lost their job and never expected to be unemployed, folks who have been sick with the virus and unable to work again."
Scherer said when the pandemic started nine months ago, the center had to immediately re-invent itself, moving almost all services outside, and providing food and other needs for triple the number of people, with a much smaller staff, due to the limitations of coronavirus precautions.
However, when it comes to donations, Scherer says the community has stepped up, big-time and the supplies are robust for the foreseeable future.
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As big as the demand is now for the Thanksgiving holiday, the expectation is the need will only grow in the weeks ahead.
Keith Chesterman sees a future that is hopeful as long as there are people like those at Monument Crisis Center willing to help people like him.
"I'm tired, but inspired," said Chesterman. "Herculean effort by a few for so many, and that's a wonderful thing."
The Monument Crisis Center has a big virtual fundraiser coming up in early December, and there is a list of particular needs for those wishing to donate.
All the information can be found on the MCC website, here.
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