Community members in need of hot holiday day meals gathered inside West Erwin Benevolence Center for Hiway 80 Rescue Mission’s yearly Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday.

Leaving with to-go plates and full stomachs, those who attended were not only given fresh hot meals but were spoiled with various plates fulfilling their hunger for the day. Plates included turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls and a slice of pumpkin pie.

According to Jason Brandon, director of Tyler ministries for Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, this year’s turnout was successful, especially with it being back in motion compared to last year’s drive-thru event due to the pandemic.

Brandon said the yearly Thanksgiving lunch event is one of the three events done by Hiway 80, and it’s an important event that helps serve the population of Tyler residents experiencing homelessness.

“The homeless population is the heartbeat of Hiway 80 Rescue Mission. We’ve been established since 1955 and that’s who our ministry is geared to, those who are hurting and are homeless and hungry. It’s very important for us to do community outreach to that population and these meals are just one way we’re able to do that ... Without events like this, some won’t even have a holiday meal,” he said.

According to Brandon, about 40 individuals were served by volunteers during the lunch and were filled with gratitude toward the event.

“They left full and left with feeling love. We’re able to share the love of God through a meal,” said Brandon.

Volunteers included Hiway 80 staff and other volunteers who helped put together the event, serve and cook the holiday meal.

Brandon also expressed gratitude toward the Tyler community, especially those who support the East Texas nonprofit.

“I’m just thankful to be here and what we did today, and truly having this meal for those who we served is a blessing to me. I’m just thankful and I’m thankful for the community of Tyler and East Texas as whole because without them, we couldn’t do what we do. Just having that support from Tyler means a lot to us,” he said.

For upcoming holiday dinners and to find out more about Hiway 80, visit


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Video Editor / Bilingual Multimedia Journalist

Photographer and video editor for Tyler Paper but I also cover community outreach, bilingual content, events and education. Stephen F. Austin State University Alumna. Houstonian reporting in East Texas since January 2021. Story ideas? email me at