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Couple uses catering deposit from canceled wedding to feed 200 people in need

Emily Bugg, 33, and Billy Lewis, 34, were supposed to celebrate the biggest day of their lives this year: their wedding. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Illinois couple had no choice but to cancel the much-awaited event.

However, they had already paid some of their huge wedding expenses, including a $5,000 catering deposit to Big Delicious Planet, their caterer. Emily and Billy could have easily arranged to move their wedding to another date so they can still use it, but they came up with a better idea.

Instead of rescheduling, the lovebirds decided to spend the money for a purpose greater than themselves.

Emily and Billy reached out to Big Delicious Planet and asked them to use their payment to provide 200 Thanksgiving dinners to clients of Thresholds, a charitable organization helping Illinoisans struggling with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The delicious meals consisted of turkey, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. Thresholds staff and the caterers boxed the meals, and the former delivered them to the clients’ homes ahead of the holiday.

As an outreach worker at Thresholds, Emily thought this was the best way to make use of their catering deposit.

“In the grand scheme of things, canceling a big wedding isn’t the worst thing that could happen,” she told “Good Morning America.” “We’re happy to be married, and we’re so happy that we could help Thresholds’ clients feel the connection of a Thanksgiving meal as a result of the wedding cancellation.”

Emily and Billy met on the dating app Bumble in 2017. Instead of moving their wedding to another date, they decided to tie the knot at City Hall in Chicago on October 1.

Their wedding venue, Salvage One, agreed to put their deposit towards another charitable organization that Emily is connected with: the Epilepsy Foundation. The money will go to funding one of the group’s future events.

Threshold holds an annual communal Thanksgiving dinner for their clients, but this had to be canceled as well because of COVID-19.

The group’s CEO, Mark Ishaug, is glad that someone like Emily is doing her part to help the community amid this challenging time.

“Emily’s donation is an incredible example of the generosity and creativity that the pandemic has inspired in so many,” he said. “I know that Emily’s act of kindness will inspire others to do the same and build love and connection in a difficult time, in any way we can.”

“Thresholds is so grateful for our staff, like Emily, who are so dedicated to their work serving those with mental illnesses,” he continued.

Another similar story is about this couple who also wed amid the pandemic.

Melanie and Tyler had every single detail of their wedding planned. They were supposed to have a lavish ceremony complete with a DJ and delicious food from a caterer. They’ve also booked a large wedding venue to accommodate all their 150 guests.

However, all this went down the drain when the coronavirus hit.

But instead of feeling sad about it, Melanie and Tyler decided to push through with their August 15 wedding, albeit with some changes.

First, they cut down the number of guests and had an intimate backyard ceremony with only their immediate family members as witnesses.

Since they couldn’t have the regular reception, the couple reached out to The City Mission’s Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center, a shelter for women and children in need, to ask if they could donate their food.

They had already pre-ordered it from their favorite food truck and caterer, Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers, so they thought it would be great people in need would benefit from it.

The shelter, of course, agreed with their plan.

After the ceremony, Melanie and Tyler—still in full wedding attire—donned their hairnets and masks to help serve fried chicken, salad, green beans, and mac and cheese to the residents at the center.

Their generous donation helped keep 135 women and children full that day!

Turns out, this isn’t the first time the couple has done something like this. According to Melanie and Tyler, they have donated to a charitable organization annually ever since they met at a friend’s wedding in 2016.

The only difference this time is that they got to see everyone’s reaction in person. This was also their first major event as a married couple, which made the act even more special.

Kudos to these married couples for choosing the route of compassion! Here’s to hoping that the spirit of generosity and kindness we’re seeing today continues, even after the worst is over.

Don’t forget to share this story with your friends and family!

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Maureen Brown

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

This year has brought out the best and worst in people. I'm happy to concentrate on the lovely, generous acts of so many.

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