“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” H.U. Westermayer
Among those giving thanks this holiday season are hundreds of homeless in Nashville. It is time once again for Nashville Rescue Mission’s annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet.
Two days of cooking, 500 turkeys, and between 700 to 800 volunteers working add up to more than 6,000 meals being served to those in need of some Thanksgiving spirit throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Over a 1,000 people will enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal during a season of thankfulness and gratitude,” said Billy Eldridge, senior director of operations for the Mission. “But it doesn’t happen without a good group of volunteers.”
Volunteers as young as 6-years-old, along with many first-time volunteers, families, and organizations have made volunteering at the Mission an annual tradition. Time and time again, volunteers tell us, “I’m the one who benefited the most by this experience.”
“It’s not uncommon to see three generations of families join in the excitement of the holiday by volunteering at the Mission, especially during Thanksgiving,” said Bryant Burton, director of volunteer services. “Volunteering strengthens the bond of family and friendship, while teaching kids about charity. It is a richly rewarding experience with an eternal impact.”
When asked what they like most about helping those in need, volunteers had this to say:
“The best thing about volunteering is watching the men and women grow in their walk with Jesus.” Shelley Meadows
“There’s nothing like peeling LOTS of potatoes with friends while meeting the men and women who come to the Mission in need of help and hope.” Carrie Michelle Lynn
“It’s amazing to witness the transformation of the men and women in the Life Recovery Program from their first day, until graduation. Seeing them come in broken and hurt, to becoming strong and experiencing joy again is truly a miracle.” Justin French
“Serving others and seeing them smile when you say to them, ‘Enjoy your meal and have a nice day’ always makes me feel good.” Kathy Bridgen
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”
“It’s true,” said Rev. Glenn Cranfield, the Mission’s President and CEO. “Everyone wants to be needed. We all want to feel like we’re making a difference in someone else’s life. It’s a universal human need. Volunteering to help those who are less fortunate is like medicine to our soul.”
“The Mission does something the Bible tells us to do—and that is to love people unconditionally,” said French. “I used to believe giving back to the community was optional. Now I believe giving back to the community is a responsibility we all have. While volunteering at the Mission, I discovered there were people just like me and you, who had run out of hope, ran into hard times, lost their jobs, maybe lost their families, and didn’t have anywhere else to go. Seeing this first hand really brings the awareness that this could be any us.”
Betty, who was a first time volunteer last year, said she’s been blessed with many things and wants to be a blessing to others. “It makes you feel joy in your heart to be able to help those less fortunate than yourself,” said Betty. “I’m thankful for Jesus and my salvation, I want to pass that on.”
“Whether it’s through your gift of time serving those in need, or supporting us with a financial gift, YOU are what makes Thanksgiving great at Nashville Rescue Mission,” said Cranfield. “We could not do this without you.”