BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Thanksgiving came a few days early for several homeless South Mississippians. Shepherd of the Gulf hosted their fourth annual Thanksgiving in the Woods on Saturday. Since 2010, the local non-profit has made it their mission to feed as many homeless South Mississippians as they can for Thanksgiving.
"Over the year's we've found that the campers, I call them the campers, were a little afraid of people coming that close to their camps so we decided to make it in an area where they come to us and they feel more comfortable," said Lynda Favre, Coordinator at Shepherd of the Gulf.
Favre has coordinated the event since its beginning in 2010. Between that first meal and today, she has seen the attendance triple in size, and the community support has been overwhelming.
"If the need is there it can be supported with a lot of help from the community, a lot of outpouring from the community to make this event possible."
The event now has more than 20 sponsors and welcomes volunteer groups from across the coast. Several of the groups, like Disability Connection, have supported Thanksgiving in the Woods for years.
"It's a strong Gulf Coast community, and all of the non-profits are very good about helping each other, volunteering with each other to be a stronger community, because this is the best way we can help our mutual clients," said Janie O'Keefe with Disability Connection.
Not only do the campers get to leave with free food and free clothing, but many of them even got a bus pass to make their way back home.
Volunteers for the event came in all different forms, from those who served food, to those who donated items for the campers to take with them. If they didn't leave with anything else, they had a hot meal on a chilly day.