HOLLAND, Michigan — The Gateway Mission is serving more than one thousand people in need this Thanksgiving, and have been doing so for the past 20 years.
Hope College is a partner of the event and hosted the banquet at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse Wednesday evening.
The Gateway Mission, located in Holland, hopes to serve just over 1,300 people, including those residing in the shelters, low-income families or even those just looking to spend the holiday with others.
Linda Furbush is one of over 400 volunteers making the Holland Mission's Great Thanksgiving Banquet event happen.
"I have had a blast. It has been awesome. All the people here. Volunteers are just fantastic. Fun to work with," she said.
As a first-time volunteer, she baked two pies and helped set up all of the tables inside the arena.
"It just gives me joy and happiness. What I did was minimal compared to how it's going to affect them."
The mission has been planning for this big event since the summer.
The food, including 100 turkeys, have all been donated by community members and local companies.
"Pies have been donated. Turkeys. If you can name it at a Thanksgiving meal, people have been helping donate it," said Rachel Neal, the Development Director at Gateway Mission.
What makes this event special is people from all different economic levels and backgrounds connecting.
"We've had volunteers in the past who've told us they've built a relationship with someone they've met at the banquet," said Neal. "They've done future Thanksgiving meals and holiday meals with those individuals. It's really an opportunity for our community to come together and to be united and to give thanks."
In addition, the mission's offering more than 300 to-go meals for people unable to physically attend, as well as for first responders.
"If you're watching this for next year, if you're thinking about volunteering, even if it's just a couple of pies, it's always needed," said Furbush. "It's always wanted. No one's ever going to be turned away from volunteering."
Care boxes filled with hygiene products and other items, what you can't buy with food stamps, are also being handed out this year; one per household.
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