BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A tradition nearly three decades in the making will continue Thursday night, as Holiday Helpers is poised to host its annual Thanksgiving celebration, giving a feast to those who need it most.
"We serve anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 people," said Rosella Williams with Holiday Helpers Inc.
It's not your usual family gathering, unless your family tree has several hundred branches, which the Holiday Helpers family does.
"Being a Holiday Helper pretty much means being able to reach out and help those that are less fortunate than you," said CarRon Cooper, a volunteer with Holiday Helpers. "Being able to come out and be a part of a bigger family."
Holiday Helpers has hosted a Thanksgiving together event for 28 years. Red table cloths, centerpieces and hand-decorated place mats are carefully laid out by hundreds of volunteers the night before the big feast. The tables will be filled on Thursday with anyone who finds themselves without a place to celebrate.
"You would not believe so many people in the community do not have places to eat on Thanksgiving or any other day," Williams explained.
"We have folks that come here from New Orleans. We have folks that come here from our Baton Rouge streets," Cooper added.
And, everything is free. The food is donated from hotels. The fellowship, on the other hand, comes from the ever growing Holiday Helpers family. Many of the volunteers started as kids and now bring their own children to help.
"It is definitely an adventure for some of us that come here for the first time. It can be a bit overwhelming seeing all the volunteers. It's a great, family oriented atmosphere for us to be able to give in," Cooper said.
"It's wonderful to see some of the experiences some of these young people have," Williams added.
The event is held at the River Center in downtown Baton Rouge. The doors open at 10 a.m. Food is served through 2 p.m. Anyone and everyone is welcome.
Holiday Helpers also hosts events for Christmas and Easter.