MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Rescue Mission is continuing their Thanksgiving tradition by feeding the homeless.

Thanksgiving is a time to be surrounded by family and friends but that’s not always possible for some people. That’s where the Miami Rescue Mission comes in. It makes sure that everyone has somewhere to go to give thanks and enjoy a good meal.

Hundreds of volunteers at the Miami Rescue Mission and its Broward Outreach Centers in Hollywood and Pompano Beach are feeding thousands of people this Thanksgiving.

They have prepared 285 turkeys, 500 pounds of potatoes, 500 pounds of green beans, 500 pounds of stuffing, 225 pounds of cranberry sauce, 300 pies, 45 gallons of gravy, 3,000 dinner rolls, and 6,000 bottles of water and soda.

Head chef Calvin McFadden, or “Big Mac,” is back again this year, even though he retired.

“I’m just glad to come back here and give back to a program that was real good to me,” said McFadden. “It’s going to be a great meal.”

The Miami Rescue Mission is important to McFadden because he was once on the other side of the line, receiving food. Nearly 20 years ago, the organization helped him get back on his feet and he’s been paying it forward ever since.

His story is like that of so many others volunteering, who complete the rescue mission program and then come back to help others who are in the place they once were.

Jonathan Allred, the facilities caretaker at Miami Rescue Mission says it was Thanksgiving 2016 when he made the decision to turn his life around.

“This event means a lot to me because, when I had nowhere to go for that meal, you know, this was a big staple for that day.  Usually, you spend it around family, and this place has become my family.

There are about 2,500 people being served at the Great Thanksgiving Banquet with about 400 volunteers pitching in as well.

“22 years ago, my life changed, and I’ve been able to give back to people,” says Antonio Villasuso, Director of the Miami Rescue Mission.  “I am grateful to be up this morning and be able to help the community, be able to serve, and just put a smile on people’s faces.”

The organization also provides clothes and hygiene products to families in need as well as services such as haircuts, medical evaluations, and checkups.

“This is the place that helped me turn my life around,” says volunteer Anthony Durden, who leads the Turkey Bowl football game. “I feel an obligation to be here so I can let other people know that’s coming through the program that if it worked for me, it can work for you.”

Rev. Ron Brummitt, President of Miami Rescue Mission | Broward Outreach Centers, said of the festivities, “I am so excited that we are able to provide a great meal for the homeless and needy families of South Florida on our campuses. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what you have in this world and realize how you can make the world for someone else a little bit better.”

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

Karli Barnett