HOLLAND, Michigan —  It's a busy day for Holland Rescue Mission staff and volunteers as they prep for the organization's Annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

The event, which feeds around 1,500 families in need, kicks off Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the DeVos Fieldhouse on Hope College's campus. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Frank Wilson, Director of Food Services at Holland Rescue Mission, said this is the banquet's 20th year, and over its history, the event has continued to grow.

"It’s become a very large event. It’s been hosted at several large locations and we ended up at the biggest facility in the Holland area, the DeVos Fieldhouse," he said, " Not everyone that’s eating at this event is someone that you might say is at dire straits, but they’re people in our community that need fellowship and friendship."

With dozens of volunteers and partnerships with The Gilmore Collection, Baker Lofts, and creative dining services at Phelps Hall, Wilson said the prepping stage is coming together quickly.

"There’s a lot of volunteers that are involved and it’s pretty incredible to think that we can be at the Devos Fieldhouse at 4 and by 8/8:30 {p.m.} we’re all on our way home, and it’s attributed to the fact that we use volunteers and everyone’s really excited about doing this and helping and getting things done," Wilson explained.

A group of seniors from Holland Christian High School also got in on the action this year. The students have been volunteering this year in the Holland Rescue Mission kitchen on Thursdays before class, and after a last-minute, two-day fundraiser at their school, raised $3,700 to donate towards the banquet.

HOLLAND CHRISTIAN STUDENTS DONATE TO HOLLAND RESCUE MISSION
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"It was really cool to see how much money was coming in and we didn’t mind counting money over doing homework, so it was good," Matthew Spaulding joked.

His classmate Brandi Statema said, "I hope that it shows that people care enough to donate money and want to make a change for them."

In order to make enough food, Wilson said the group has prepared 35 gallons of cranberry sauce, 60 gallons of gravy, 80 gallons of coffee and 1600 pounds of turkey.

CRANBERRY SAUCE
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"They're even screaming for more," he said.

For those who can't attend the event due to disability or lack or transportation, Holland Rescue Mission is putting together over 225 meals, delivering to assisted living homes, fire stations, police stations, low-income neighborhoods, etc.

"Jesus Christ is real and he’s working among people that pull together and do things like this as a community," Wilson said.

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