Valley volunteers serve Thanksgiving meals to those in need

FRESNO, Calif.

At the Poverello House in Downtown Fresno, more than a hundred people arrived as early as 5 a.m. to carve turkeys and cook up some of the traditional side dishes for a hot Thanksgiving meal.

"This is such a great thing these people are doing when they come out and reach out to you. There are a lot of people with broken spirits, people who don't have a home; some people don't have families so it's wonderful what they're doing. It helps you spiritually and emotionally to know there's still love in this country and that together we can make an effort to make this happen," said Lonzy Armstrong.

Gurprit Uppal and more than 20 others from the Selma Sikh Center got together before the sun came up to bake homemade pizzas and serve up slices to a hungry crowd.

"We've been doing this for the past three years," said Uppal. "It feels great because everyone is just thanking you just have a big smile on their face and you see the little kids get fed so it feels good."

Inside volunteers worked in shifts bagging up breakfasts and lunches and preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal for nearly 800 people, complete with all the fixings.

"We accept volunteers ages seven and up. We even have a volunteer who's over a hundred. He's awesome and he's a regular. He comes in every Thursday," said Volunteer Director Gabriela McNeil. "It takes a special person in general to volunteer with Poverello house, but on a special day like this it's just that kindness in their hearts. It's awesome!"

Volunteer Ed Lujano said serving his community has become a family tradition here at the Poverello House starting back when his college-aged kids were small.

"This is our 10th year, my family and I, this has been a tradition for us and it's a reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about," Lujano said.

He said, in a way these are his extended family members now and he couldn't imagine spending the holiday with anyone else.

"Everyone comes in and is like here comes the Lujano family. They kind of know us here and it's a great feeling because we don't just do this for Thanksgiving, we do this year round in different ways to give back because it shouldn't just be for Thanksgiving," Lujano said.

Xpress Yourself party supplies provided all of the linens and Thanksgiving decor on the tables, Church groups, school organizations and individuals also volunteered their time and the Selma Sikh Center said it's donated more than $20,000 to the Poverello House over the last few years.

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