Hundreds volunteer in spirit of the holiday

By Audrey Williams

November 22, 2012 Updated Nov 22, 2012 at 7:22 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- For many, Thanksgiving is a day filled with food, family and laughter. It was also a day of giving back for hundreds here in the Heart of Illinois.

As early as 7 o'clock on Thanksgiving morning volunteers flocked to Peoria's South Side Mission.

They packed and delivered about 2,500 turkey dinners to the elderly, handicap, shut-in and poor.

"Many times the people who request the meals, they're very lonely, and so our volunteers may be the only people they see today," said South Side Mission Spokesperson Meg Newell.

For some, volunteering during the holidays is a family tradition.

"We come to the South Side Mission every Thanksgiving. I bring my children because I want them to learn the giving of Thanksgiving," said South Side Mission volunteer Brad McMillan.

While the South Side Mission sent meals out, volunteers at the Salvation Army of Peoria served at least 200 hundred meals to those that came in to their lunchroom.

Salvation Army volunteer Brittany Evans said, "We just wanted to come and help and serve and spend today together as a family and help all of these people out."

While the outpouring of support is evident on Thanksgiving day, both the South Side Mission and the Salvation Army said the need remains year-round.

"That need we keep seeing grow every day, every year. We're just grateful for our volunteers, whether they give financially or provide in a physical kind of way," said Captain Katherine Clauseel with the Salvation Army.

Newell said, "The South Side Mission relies on community support, we don't get any tax dollars to make all of this happen. Our November is not where it needs to be financially, but we are relying on God and the Peoria community to come along side and help us make sure that the poor of Peoria are served."

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