YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Hundreds of people in Youngstown and Warren had full stomachs on Wednesday, thanks to the Salvation Army in Youngstown, the Warren Family Mission and dozens of volunteers.
An annual Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Salvation Army’s chapel on Glenwood Avenue.
Volunteers fed more than 700 people — roughly 100 more than last year’s event.
Valley businessman Gus Giannios led the effort over the last eight years and said the results make the hard work that goes into it worthwhile.
“I do this because I see every person come through that line I’m feeding. It’s not like I’m sending money to an organization I don’t know where it’s going. I know I’m feeding 700 people,” he said.
To pull the event off, Giannios and a team of volunteers roasted 50 turkeys on Wednesday — all of them donated.
Among those helping Wednesday were nearly two dozen coaches and players from the Ursuline High School football team.
“I had a meeting with four upcoming seniors and said, ‘We need this many people. You’re in charge of getting them, building leadership, building a team-bonding situation for us to get better in 2018,’” said Ursuline Football Coach Larry Kempe.
“It was just absolutely phenomenal to see all these people come together to prepare all of these turkeys and the feast that we will have,” said Major Sherrlyn Moore. “It’s just a lot of people with a lot of notes as to what has gone on in the past, and because it has been successful, it continues to grow.
Meanwhile, the Warren Family Mission on Tod Avenue had 110 volunteers help out at this year’s community Thanksgiving Dinner.
“I received their services, so in order for me to give back, I wanted to come and give my time and let them know what a great organization that this is,” volunteer Pamela Peterson said.
They’ve been serving up turkey dinners with all the fixings for 19 years now — providing a welcoming atmosphere and a sense of togetherness in the process.
“It’s good to have a communty come together instead of all this violence that’s going on now,” said Mako Chandler of Warren.
“Some people don’t have family, so they just like to come down and mingle with others,” said Dominic Mararri of Warren Family Mission. “It’s warming to your heart.”
Warren Family Mission expected to serve around 3,000 meals this year.
“I just wanted to give thanks to everybody who gave this food to us,” said Miracle McCloud.
WYTV has a list of other free Thanksgiving meals in the area this week.