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Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis had big wedding plans. They were engaged in July 2019 and began planning an elaborate wedding. But something happened on the way to the altar. Covid-19 was released on the world. As the pandemic stretched on, the couple went to Plan B, scaling down their guest list to 50. Then, Plan C: changing dates. And finally Plan D: canceling the ceremony altogether and heading to City Hall on Oct. 1.

There was one last matter. They had many non-refundable deposits that were gone, but they had a creative idea for redeeming their $5,000 catering deposit? The newlyweds decided to turn that $5000 into 200 Thanksgiving dinners for people with severe mental illness. “This just seemed like a good way to make the best of a bad situation,” said Bugg, an outreach worker at Thresholds, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions.

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, dozens of Thresholds clients received a boxed dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans and other fixings from Big Delicious Planet, a high-end Chicago-based caterer.

The newlyweds said it would have been fun to celebrate with loved ones, but the pandemic has shined a light on many things they are grateful for: They both are healthy and employed and they have each other.

Here is the icing on the wedding cake. Billy scored a million brownie points when he said, “I’m lucky to have a wife who is clever and thoughtful enough to change a not-so-good situation into something positive for a lot of people,” Lewis said.

We can complain about our circumstances or we can look for ways to use them for a good purpose.

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