Hundreds of low-income and homeless residents of Tyler and Longview were fed a Thanksgiving meal Wednesday by Highway 80 Rescue Mission.
"You never know who's going to come through," said Eric Burger, executive director. "It could be a homeless veteran, or someone who lost their job. Some people feel very alone at the holidays. The meal is great, but we're here to share love with them."
Attendees were invited to eat their fill of turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pie. Organizers prepared enough food for about 200 in Tyler, and fed others at the center in Longview and Meals On Wheels.
"Eat 'til you get full," Antonio Christian, Highway 80's Tyler Outreach Coordinator, announced at the event.
Ricky Huey, 35, doesn't typically celebrate Thanksgiving, he said. Huey lives in the woods and heard about the event through Christian. Huey doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving because his brother was murdered on the holiday in 2003.
"It's a hard holiday," he said.
The meal is for people like Huey. Others at the meal were better off, but still appreciated a meal.
Betty Lynch, 49, isn't homeless, but is still thankful for what Highway 80 does.
"I'm thankful they're doing this and helping people in need," she said.
About 35 volunteers were helping out at the event.
"We're here to remember the meaning of Thanksgiving and make sure our children do, too," said volunteer Jeff Embry. "There are people who don't have anything to eat. It's a neat opportunity to give back to the community."
One of Embry's children, Ella, 8, took the message to heart.
"It's good all these people are getting food who don't have food to eat," she said. "Thanksgiving is about when you can give to people in need … This Thanksgiving, I'm most thankful for my family."