Over 100 people gathered under the Gentry Parkway bridge in Tyler on Monday night to receive clothes and a warm meal for Thanksgiving that they may not be celebrating anywhere else.
The art-covered pillars under the bridge decorate an area that has been traditionally used by the homeless as a resting spot.
Hope on the Streets, a church ministry that gathers under the bridge at Gentry weekly, hosted the event titled Thanksgiving on the Street to help the area homeless population ahead of the holiday.
The ministry typically hosts a worship service, a Bible message with food at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays.
“I know they try to give out clothes, food and things like that. I’m not in such a great position right now, so it kind of drew me to this spot right here,” bystander Isaia Cornelio said. “I just got here, I drove by and decided to stop. They try to help out people less fortunate around here.”
Volunteers from the Tyler Biker Church and Calvary Commission created a food line and served a full Thanksgiving meal to the public. The service drew both faithful attenders and bystanders alike.
“This is our Thanksgiving on the Street Event, we do it every year for Thanksgiving,” Pastor Shelby Way said. “We try to feed the homeless and the needy in the area. We’ve been doing this for eight years. It’s a real blessing to be a part of it.”
Way said the ministry furnishes coats, blankets and other necessities for the people who gather under the shelter of the bridge. He said the focus of Hope on the Streets was to be “the hands and feet of Jesus.”
“Where else do you find homeless people, biker gangs and business people gathered into one spot?” Way laughed. “Most of the people we serve will never be in a church, they don’t go to church, so we bring church to them. We try to be missionaries right where people are.”