BELLEVUE (KPTM) - Thanksgiving dinner for many families in Bellevue came one day early. The Bellevue Christian Center fed hundreds of needy families during its 19th annual "Feed the Multitudes" dinner.
There was organized chaos inside the downstairs kitchen. Kids and teens carried trays of food. Men and women handled the ham, gravy, mashed potatoes and more. Everyone was a volunteer.
"They cook the food," BCC's lead pastor's wife Laurie Hoyt said the volunteers handle everything from "the serving, handing out flyers to people who go on the buses to handling out coats," she said. "It's a mammoth job."
Wednesday evening members of BCC prepared a Thanksgiving feast for more than 1,500 people.
"It gives us an opportunity to be able to do something so that people, who are not able to go home with their families, at least have some memory of the holiday," Hope Valentine who has been volunteering for 19 years said.
Bus drivers also volunteered. There were 12 buses, in which the drivers made about 25 stops to pick people up around Bellevue and Omaha areas.
"You get lots of thanks and appreciation," Nathan Bolay, who has been volunteering for two years, said. "It's very uplifting to have that kind of gratitude from our passengers--we don't always get that everyday."
The first bus left around 4:40 p.m. Less than an hour later, families packed the auditorium.
They didn't have to stand in line for their meals either--volunteers brought everything to their tables.
"I feel like royalty!" Bruce, who didn't want to give his last name, said.
"I like being here for Thanksgiving. People are friendly, the food is good and it's just nice to meet everybody--you feel relaxed," Debbie Chappell, who came with her family, said.
Both the groups of families and volunteers said they have benefited from this dinner every year.
"It honestly brings my mind to where reality is. It helps me remember where people are at," DJ Perkey said. "Sometimes we get caught up in our own lives and our own schedules that we forget about other people's needs and wants and also their desires."
They learned that sometimes a helping hand -giving one or receiving one - is the best thing to be thankful for.
Hoyt said the number of families BCC serves at "Feed the Multitudes" has increased. While this is not good news, she said BCC is committed to helping needy families all year round.