Free Thanksgiving meals bring communities across NW Ohio together

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – The Cherry Street Mission continued its 75-year tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving luncheon for those in need in the community.

The menu featured Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Hundreds of hungry people crowded the doors from 12pm to 1pm.

“Every mission begins with a good hot meal and ends with community stability,” said Anne Ebbert, President and CEO of Cherry Street Mission. “If we’re able to offer food, offer a warm place to live, offer activities, we believe it really helps people feel worthwhile in their own lives.”

This year’s meal was served restaurant-style, where guests placed orders and the food was delivered to them by volunteers. “It’s served by literally 100 volunteers who come in and serve restaurant style. Rather than going through a line, people will serve you and you can choose what you want from our menu that fits your particular palette today,” Ebbert said.

“They are all just very grateful and I said thank you and I said Happy Thanksgiving to each other. They asked us how we were and told us to have a great day and it’s very humbling,” said first volunteer Geri Dennis.

Christmas is just around the corner and Cherry Street Mission has big plans. If you are interested in making a donation click here and if you would like to volunteer click here.

Meanwhile, in Elmore, volunteers gathered at Woodmore High School, where they hosted a drive-through Thanksgiving feast.

There was 300 ham, 300 turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and more available for free.

“I really enjoy loving and serving people at this time of year,” said Pastor Tom Willhardt of the Elmore Church of God. “Just being out here and talking to the different cars that come through and the people in them. I really like that.”

Willhardt says their Thanksgiving dinner is the only one given out for free on Thanksgiving in the Elmore area.

“We don’t forget the people in the country, because they have the same needs as the people in the big city. That’s why we’re doing it out here,” says Willhardt.

The drive thru fest was a hit with everyone who stopped by.

“I’m bringing in food for four families,” said drive-through attendee Pam Imm. “Everything was wonderful. I used to come here when they were inside and I got one with everyone else.”

“I think it’s beautiful. It’s great. It comes out very quickly and it’s beautiful and simple. It’s awesome,” said another contestant, Marty Matyas.

People who went through the drive-thru say they’re grateful for the community support and, of course, a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

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