KINGSTON -- Serving Thanksgiving meals to those in need is not an easy task during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martha’s Table located on 629 Princess St. in Kingston is one of those determined to serve up a nutritious Thanksgiving meal to people who could use one, even as the demand grows, and their volunteer numbers are cut back.

"This is our way to reach out to the people we know, our guests and just say 'hey listen there are some things that are still normal.' We can’t see you face to face, we can’t give you a hug, but we can still continue this tradition of a turkey dinner," says Rhonda Candy, executive director of Martha's Table.

The way that tradition will continue will look a little different this year, says Candy.

Martha’s Table has run like a full-service restaurant, with tables and free sit down meals, since opening in 1997.

When the pandemic began they switched to takeout, and that’s how they’ll hand out meals to about 250 people on Monday.

Even though their inside dining is closed, Candy says they’ll set up twenty spots outside for people to sit, should they need to.

"We want to keep it family style, comfort food, a full traditional meal," says Candy. "Because it’s our way of connecting people using the program. Our guests."

It’s the only community group in the city offering meals on the holiday Monday, and heading into it, the need is greater than ever, says Candy.

A handful of volunteers serve over 1,100 people a week, a 300 per cent increase since the start of the pandemic.

But Candy says it’s not all dire, because as Martha’s Table has seen that increase in need, they’ve also seen an increase in donations.

Turkeys, potatoes, and money, all have been coming through in the lead up to the long weekend says volunteer and chef Betty Anne Revelle.

Including a donation of chocolate bars by The United Way to give people an added treat.

"Really helps us out 100 per cent," says Revelle. "We say if it wasn’t for the community doing this I don’t know if Martha’s could do it."

"I call it Martha’s Magic," says Candy. "As the needs increase, it seems the donations follow that trend. We’re fortunate, very fortunate."

Still, Candy admits, those donations will continue to be needed well past the long weekend, especially as their client numbers increase.

"We have enough on hand for a week, and it rotates week by week," she explains. "We want people to feel that they’re included their cared for, they’re thought of."

Take-away meals are served at their Princess St. location every day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Donations online can be made here, while food donations can be dropped off at the back door of 629 Princess St.