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Madison couple cooking Thanksgiving meals for others in exchange for donation to food bank, homeless shelter

MADISON, Wis. — For the last 10 years, Madison residents Cynthia Nolen and Paul Abramson traveled to Milwaukee to spend Thanksgiving with friends. This year, they’ll be spending it alone.

“This is a time when we feel we can give back to other people,” Nolen said.

Instead of participating in a feast with others, Nolen and Abramson will be cooking for 15 people to deliver home-cooked meals to their door.

In exchange, the couple is asking those who receive their meals to donate to a food bank, homeless shelter or neighborhood association.

“We were just looking to start some new traditions and maybe this will be it,” Nolen said.

The couple asked their neighbors and friends all around the Madison area who they know will be spending this Thanksgiving alone if they wanted to participate.

Their neighbor Jody Whelden plans to donate to the Goodman Community Center.

Whelden said, “It makes me feel like, ‘Golly I’m going to have this beautiful home cooked meal and I’m going to give a lot and I’m going to be part of this bigger circle of people they’ve included.’ It’s very special.”

Nolen and Abramson have also asked people to bring their own ovenware so they can put people’s own food in their own containers to help make the meal more COVID friendly.

Nolen and Abramson know this Thanksgiving just won’t be the same for so many people this year, but they’re hoping that by sharing their time, commitment and love of food with others, more people can adopt their “attitude of gratitude” in a year it’s needed most.

“We are happy that we’re together and that we can share a lot of things that a lot of people who are living by themselves can’t during COVID,” the couple said. “So this is a time when we feel we can give back to other people.”