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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Thanksgiving Day, the Miami Rescue Mission held their annual banquet.

Calvin McFadden, the head chef, was hard at work in the kitchen starting at 2:30 in the morning.

“It’s something we take pride in,” he says, “Giving the people a good meal today.”

Feeding for a crowd of about 1,500 people is a big undertaking, but he says it is well worth the effort.

“I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years since I’ve been here. I had retired, but I decided to come back and do this special event here today, because I really feel like giving something back. The Mission has been good to me, and, Lord knows, we just need to give something back.”

They’re giving back in the form of 200 turkeys, 200 pies, 150 pounds of stuffing, 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, and a lot more.

Hundreds of volunteers make the annual event possible.

Some, like Derrick Dumas, do this every year.

He says he was influenced by the Rescue Mission since the age of 12, when some of his mentors would pick him up and bring him to play at the recreation center.

“It’s in my heart,” Dumas says. “It’s always great to give back, especially when somebody gives to you. If I can do anything to give back, why not?”

That’s a lesson Johanna June, another volunteer, wanted to instill in her son.

“It’s become a tradition now,” she says. “He’s been doing it since [age] seven— ten years.”

“I’m giving food. I feel better about myself,” says her son Jordan. “It just warms you up inside.

Barbers were on hand to make sure people felt polished on the outside too.

“It’s free. They sit down. They get catered to for the day. And it’s just a joyful moment for us and them,” says Terrell McKay.

He has been through the Rescue Mission program, and he’s now helping others.

“Everybody can make a change,” McKay says. “Everybody can straighten out their life.”

New this year, the Rescue Mission packed up entire boxes of food and hygiene products for the people they serve to take with them.

“When you do good you’re always going to get a good response,” says Director Antonio Villasuso.

“That’s all we want to do is to be a light in this dark community. We’ve been here since 1922. We’re the ‘caring place’ for a reason.”

Everyone was brought together in faith and fellowship, giving thanks for the simple joy of a home-cooked meal.

The Rescue Mission says they planned to serve 3,000 people at their three locations— Miami, Hollywood, and Pompano.

Click here for more information about the Caring Place at Miami Rescue Mission.

Karli Barnett

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