Hundreds line up for free Thanksgiving Eve feast

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – More than 300 of the homeless and hungry waited patiently Wednesday morning for the Thanksgiving feast to begin.

"Dear Lord, we thank you today and the blessings you have bestowed upon us," they prayed.

Many felt grateful for the traditional turkey meal at Feed My Sheep in downtown Gulfport.

"A hot meal puts something on your stomach, keeps you rolling," said Davis Cosmo Owens of Gulfport.

"We wanted to serve the best meal that you can get at a soup kitchen in Mississippi.  So you can see today, it's turkey and dressing and green beans and mashed potatoes.  It's not just a cup of soup," said Ted Reimann, Feed My Sheep Board Chairman.

"I like the bread and ham and mashed potatoes and the green beans. I like everything," said eight-year-old Micheal Shelton.

They also appreciated the huge helpings of hospitality from the volunteers.

"I'm thankful for them and I love them all, because they're real nice and friendly people," said Rosie Austin of Gulfport.

Ten employees from PPS Plus Software of Biloxi manned the serving line. The company also surprised the soup kitchen with a $1,000 check. And nine-year-old Krissy Ybos of Woolmarket volunteered to work at the dessert table.

"During Katrina, our house got torn down. So we didn't have much.  So we went up to Pennsylvania and our relatives gave food to us and we went a shelter," Krissy explained.

Helping out at the soup kitchen was actually one of Krissy's Christmas wishes.

"My Christmas list, I put to volunteer because I wanted to give back," she said. "It makes me feel good about myself that I'm doing this."

"It's a blessing to people like me," said Reimann. "We all volunteer and come and work.  But when you go home, it's pretty much for the grace of God goes me. So we're happy to do it."

Feed My Sheep fed 567 people on Thanksgiving Eve.  That includes those who lined-up at the soup kitchen, as well as the homebound.  The facility will be closed on Thanksgiving and Friday, but will re-open on Saturday.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.