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"There are a lot of low-income families in DeKalb County, and sometimes the stress and financial obligation of Thanksgiving is too much", Salvation Army Social Services Director Rhonda Brown said. Although he came by himself, he said he met new people after a woman offered him a seat next to her at her table. "People know each other; they smile at strangers and they care about each other", she says.

Tim Donovan, chair of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, said previous year the organization served 118 dinners. The doors will open at 5:30 pm and the dinner will be served from 6-8 pm.

"That's why I chose to do it this year", said volunteer Don Nibbe.

Thanksgiving meals served at Salvation Army in Cathedral City. Similar numbers are expected this year, which is exactly why volunteers and groups that participate are vital.

Combs also is blown away by the kindness that emanates from people who are just barely getting by in their day-to-day lives.

After all the turkey dinners were served Thursday, Salvation Army officials started preparing for how they will help people to celebrate Christmas.

"I think the most valuable part is giving somebody who doesn't have anywhere to go a place to go and to be in a community".

Ervey Pineda, an Odessa resident who was going on his fourth year of volunteering, was equally impressive as being among the number of volunteers Orgata praised for pitching in. "They also provide food daily to assist our food program and have a strong commitment to this community". "There're a lot of little steps in the process".

Free Thanksgiving Meals for the Needy

Besides the deliveries and dinner, Donovan said volunteers brought meals to Chapel House, a local homeless shelter, and to the Underground Cafe where some who are homeless have been known to stop by for a Thanksgiving meal.

Hundreds of volunteers were prepared to distribute at least 20,000 plates, including to-go orders. "It's a wonderful thing - a day to give thanks", she said.

"I don't know what community means to you but that is what it means to me", Simon told volunteers via the Civic Center's loudspeakers.

About 300 birds were donated this year, enough to serve those 500 mouths and send others home with families in need.

"I'm still looking for a way out of this", 58-year-old James Martinez said.

That's where the soldiers of the San Bernardino Salvation Army step in.

"It really makes me happy that I can be here for them", Gheen said. "I can't ask for anything else".

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