JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - ?
While many gathered with their families for Thanksgiving, others served those less fortunate. The 15th annual Jonesboro Community Thanksgiving Meal took place at the St. Bernards Auditorium on Thursday.
This year was even bigger than the last. The meal brought out 537 volunteers who served 1,870 meals. Many said there was no place they'd rather be on Thanksgiving.
"We enjoy it," Byron Holt said.
Byron and Ashlynn Holt started volunteering 12 years ago with Ashylnn's Girl Scout Troop. "She's well known around here," Holt said. "She's well known. They don't remember me as much, but everyone knows Ashlynn."
Ashlynn said she doesn't consider it "giving up" her holiday. She said her family views it as giving back to others.
Lori Vardell and her family have volunteered for five years and said the people they serve deserve this. "They love being treated human," Vardell said. "It's all about human touch. You know, some of us are more fortunate than others, but we are all God's children, and we deserve to be loved."
The Jonesboro Community Thanksgiving Meal is all about bringing people together. Jim Grisham has been around since the start of this event. He said he thinks sometimes the volunteers get more out of the experience than those coming to eat.
He explained those who come for a hot meal also enjoy the fellowship. "I think they get to visit with other people," Grisham said. "See other people and visit with them. I think it really helps them a lot."
"Jonesboro is such a great community full of caring loving people," Vardell said.
Travis Howard said he's been homeless for five years and said this event means a lot to him.
"This makes you feel unity when everyone is out here," Howard said. "It makes me think I've got hope."
This holiday season, Vardell encourages everyone to pay it forward.
The event is made possible by area churches and restaurants donating food and supplies. Grisham said it wouldn't be possible without all the volunteers.