GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Thanksgiving Eve tradition drew hundreds of people to a Gulfport soup kitchen Wednesday. Feed My Sheep served-up a turkey feast with a festive touch. The event brought some joy into the lives of those who are less fortunate.
The aroma of Thanksgiving filled the dining hall at the Feed My Sheep soup kitchen in downtown Gulfport. There were generous portions of turkey, side dishes, and an entire table filled with cakes and pies.
"It's like warm food for the soul, and we don't got to worry about paying for it and nothing like that. They're really helpful," said Alana Clark of Gulfport.
More than 400 people lined-up to fill-up on the Thanksgiving feast. Many are homeless, disabled, or just in need of a hot meal.
When asked about their favorite dishes, one man said, "Turkey and dressing."
A little boy pointed to his tray and said, "I like the meat, this, this, and the cupcakes."
Volunteers also delivered 350 meals to the homebound and 50 dinners to the Salvation Army. Helping out on Thanksgiving Eve is a holiday tradition for the staff at PPS Plus Software of Biloxi.
"It's just a time to give. I mean, Thanksgiving is about helping others, giving thanks for what we have. It's a great opportunity," said company owner John Shinn.
"Oh, I think its great," said Edward Austin, who is disabled. "I'm really kind of surprised how many people are out here today, giving of their time and their efforts and their money in helping people like us and the homeless."
For Wayne Favre, it was a bittersweet moment. After eleven years as director of the feeding program, he will retire after today.
"It hurts. It hurts because I did it so long, 2002 until now, and you get used to the people," said Favre.
It was also a memorable day for those on the receiving end of all the generosity. Joan Johns is homeless and appreciated her first Thanksgiving meal at Feed My Sheep.
"It's delicious," she commented. "I feel happy, warm. It's a blessing."
"Happy Thanksgiving to you all and God bless you!" a volunteer shouted.
Feed My Sheep will be closed on Thanksgiving. However, the soup kitchen will be handing out more than 300 meals to people who've already signed-up for the Harrison County Feed the Needy Program.