In true spirit of holiday giving, volunteers from the Salvation Army and USO served thousands of Thanksgiving meals to local families in need Thursday.
The Salvation Army hosted its annual Thanksgiving feast for needy San Diegans at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego. It was major milestone for the charity, as this marked the 125th annual dinner like this to be served in San Diego.
Inside Golden Hall Thursday, hundreds of thankful families sat down for dinner – complete with all of the traditional trimmings.
“What we have intended to do was to serve the same type of dinner that we would have served if we were at our own homes,” said Stacy Dertein, coordinator for the Salvation Army. "There's stuffing there's green beans, and potatoes -- everything you can imagine."
As families ate together, a line of volunteers walked up and down the aisles, serving food and drinks.
For volunteers, this year’s event was extra special because exactly 125 years ago, the Salvation Army served its very first Thanksgiving dinner.
And the feasting didn’t stop there.
Just down the street – at the USO San Diego Downtown Center – military members and their families also ate a special meal.
Some don’t have family in town because they’re deployed, but thanks to volunteers they weren’t alone this Thanksgiving.
"We certainly get a great deal of pleasure, being able to help people and provide a Thanksgiving to someone who may have not have a traditional thanksgiving,” said USO volunteer Russell King.
“When you look out at all the people right here, they’re the reason why America is home of the free,” added USO volunteer Andy Hedekin.
While many men and women freely give their time as volunteers for events like these, more help is always welcome.
“We’d love to have you call and join our volunteer team,” said Dertein.
In San Diego Thursday, it’s estimated that together the Salvation Army and USO served more than 2,000 meals to locals.