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Gospel Mission shares Thanksgiving feast with hundreds
Squinting his eyes in the sunshine, while standing on Leon Avenue's sidewalk early Monday afternoon, Colin Farr said he is thankful for Kelowna's weather and Kelowna's Gospel Mission.
Farr was one of the first guests to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the Gospel Mission today.
He said the traditional meal is important "not only for the homeless, but for the whole community."
"This brings people together," said Farr.
Gospel Mission Executive Director Randy Benson said Monday's feast consisted of 54 turkeys, 18 hams, 500 pounds of potatoes, a couple hundred litres of gravy, as well as dressing, vegetables and dessert.
"We do three banquets a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter," said Benson.
"Thanksgiving is generally our largest one, when the most people come out."
According to Benson, preparation for this year's Thanksgiving dinner began four weeks in advance.
Benson said a typical supper meal served in the summer or fall will feed 150 to 200 people; however, Thanksgiving brings out a lot more members of the community.
"I think one of the factors is that a lot of people in town, even though they're housed, probably don't have the means to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.
"We'll get a lot of people who are living on pretty modest incomes, who can come down and enjoy a full meal that they normally wouldn't.
"That's really our purpose, to meet the needs of the people, no matter what their status, and to make sure that they have this family experience."
To help guests have a traditional Thanksgiving experience, about 50 volunteers—including city councillors and MLAs—are serving meals and helping clean-up today. The dining hall has also been set up with larger tables to create a family atmosphere.
"People are really appreciative…I think it's a great opportunity we have to serve the community this way."
Farr, who was born and raised in Kelowna, said the Gospel Mission has assisted him, on and off, for the last 30 years.
Glancing at the line-up of about 40 people, who were waiting to begin their Thanksgiving feast around 1 p.m., Farr said: "They help a lot of people."