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Staff and volunteers cooked turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy and prepared cranberry sauce and countless pies for their guests.

“We do this out of a sense of dignity and respect for those living on the streets,” said Angela Hassel, the center’s executive director. “The holidays are often a time where they’re very lonely and feeling left out. So, we’re trying to allow them that opportunity to sit down and have a good, homestyle meal.”

Leora Sorondo, who has been homeless since 2011, said the holidays can be difficult because she is separated from her family and misses her grandsons.

Leora Sorondo, who has been homeless since 2011, says the annual Loaves & Fishes Thanksgiving meal provides a sense of community.Chris Nichols / CapRadio

The meal at Loaves & Fishes makes up for some of that, she said.

“Everyone here is considered a big family. So, we’re not alone,” Sorondo explained. “Even though we’re not at home, we’re still together and we still acknowledge each other.”

Loaves & Fishes has served a Thanksgiving meal each year since it opened 38 years ago.

Rich Mann, who lives in his vehicle with his adult son Luke, said the center offers support year round.

“It’s a critical part of the infrastructure of the homeless,” Mann said. “You’ve got showers, you’ve got clothes. You have all types of support to help with housing and medical and whatever you need and food of course.”

Along with the holiday meal, Loaves & Fishes provides mental health counseling, education for children and other services for nearly 1,000 homeless people every day.

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