HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – This Thanksgiving, while some families gathered together for a nice meal, others had to find a meal elsewhere. One Mexican restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia worked to bring together those people in the community and celebrate the season of giving.
At the West Tenampa Mexican restaurant, the doors were open for a short period of time on Thanksgiving Day, but not for regular business. From 3 to 5 p.m. the restaurant welcomed anyone who wanted a free hot meal.
Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, visitors were served Mexican-style cuisines. A tradition restaurant owner Jose Valencia shares with members of the community each year.
However, due to the pandemic, Valencia says they made changes to how they distributed the meals.
We can’t have people inside, but we’re still having people carryout and people come to pick it up.Jose Valencia, West Tenampa Mexican restaurant owner
Those waiting outside the restaurant were encouraged to wear a face mask and social distance. Anyone who preferred not to leave their car could call the restaurant and a volunteer would deliver the meal to them.
Huntington resident and close friend of Valencia, Tinia Creamer volunteers to help cook the meals each year. She says she remembers when the event first started.
It really resonated with me. I lost a large number of my family members in the Emmons apartment fire. The very next year, we started this and it’s grown. I think last year we had about 150 people.Tinia Creamer, Huntington resident
While the gesture means so much to those receiving the meals, Valencia also takes joy in giving them out.
The restaurant was only open to the public for two hours on Thanksgiving Day, but visitors say they were still happy the tradition stayed alive.