The organization Grassroots served 2,000 meals at its annual pre-Thanksgiving Day meal at the Elks Lodge in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday.
Fifty-one years and counting, the San Luis Obispo non-profit is fully fueled by volunteers. Whether they were outside grocery stores collecting donations or in the kitchen cooking the meals, every helping hand was given more than willingly.
"We probably will have upwards of 400 or 500 volunteers that will put in hours over the course of three days," explained Heather Todd, Grassroots coordinator.
To pull off the event, the total amount of manpower tallied up to over 1,000 hours — all to bring home-cooked meals to SLO residents.
"I can't say enough for the volunteers that do this, for them to do this out of love and care for the community, it's very special," said Gerald Craig, a San Luis Obispo resident enjoying the food on Wednesday.
For Craig, the ability to sit down and break bread with friends has extra meaning this holiday. Instead of grabbing some to-go boxes for himself and his neighbors, he gets to celebrate Thanksgiving and his birthday.
Starting the day at 7 a.m. and a tentative end time of 9 p.m. after clean up, the hard work pays off for the volunteers as they watch people leave with a full heart and belly.
Thanksgiving meals like these can often generate a lot of waste but thanks to Janine Rands and her donated tableware collection, all the plates, silverware and cups are reusable and will be washed after the event.
Grassroots also has a location in downtown San Luis Obispo where they offer emergency meals and clothes to those in need all year round.