Volunteers weaved among tables packed with people Wednesday in the bustling dining room of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, where the Thanksgiving spirit was in full effect.
Dozens of people served plates loaded with turkey and all the sides to community members in need, and over the course of two hours handed out more than 300 meals.
The Rescue Mission offers shelter to the homeless 365 days a year, with meals served morning and evening at its facility at 535 E. Yanonali St. The mission also offers residential treatment programs for men and women struggling with substance addiction, and, of course, its annual Thanksgiving feast.
“We’re really fortunate and grateful for the response of the community,” Rescue Mission Executive Director Rolf Geyling told Noozhawk.
The Rescue Mission will continue collecting turkeys throughout the holiday season, as well as other food items. Click here for more information.
Santa Barbara Junior High School students got involved and held a canned food drive that helped feed people Wednesday, as did students at Franklin Elementary School. Boy Scout Troop 26 also pitched in, providing 16 pumpkin pies.
As the shelter moves into the holidays, Geyling said items such as pillows are also always needed.
Though the number of people seeking Thanksgiving meals has remained about the same, Geyling said the Rescue Mission has seen a 14 percent increase from last year in those seeking shelter, overnight stays and assistance.
“In Santa Barbara, the general population doesn’t understand what it’s like to live on the margin, one paycheck away from losing everything,” he said. “More and more people are finding themselves in need.”
Click here for more information about the Rescue Mission and how to donate this holiday season.