Volunteers Prepare To Feed Hungry On Thanksgiving

There's tons of frozen turkeys to slice, cases of celery to chop, and 50-pounds of onions to peel. That's enough to make a grown man cry.

"It's burning my eyes too," said an inmate who is handling the onions.

Harrison County inmates and volunteers with the "Feed the Needy Program" are scrambling to prepare Thanksgiving meals at the Air National Guard Base in Gulfport. Jimmy Johnson has been part of the program, since it started 16 years ago.

"A lot of people we serve the meals to are lonely, or their family's not here, and under the circumstances now, with Katrina, it's a lot different," said Jimmy Johnson.

Dan Williams used to cook in the Army. He's volunteering in this kitchen for the first time.

"It makes me feel good to help people. I'm used to cooking for 1,000 people, so this is nothing new to me. And, the recipe is excellent," Dan Williams said with a laugh.

This Thanksgiving, the program expects to serve up about 1,600 meals. Now that's actually several hundred meals fewer than years before. The reason may be because more and more church groups are coming to town to help feed the needy this year.

"There's a lot of need out there, and there's a lot of people there to serve them," said Johnson.

And those who serve year after year, always leave with sweet memories.

"You get blessed more than you give. We're giving somebody a hot meal," said Johnson.

The cooking begins Thanksgiving morning at 4:00. Volunteers who would like to help pack and deliver the hot meals can show up at the Air National Guard Base at 9:00.