By Jessica Kartalija

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—On the eve of Thanksgiving, hundreds of volunteers donate their time to help those less fortunate.

Jessica Kartalija reports thanks to Goodwill, thousands have a warm Thanksgiving dinner.

At the Baltimore Convention Center, 3,000 people waited in long lines to celebrate Thanksgiving early.

“This is probably going to be one of our biggest years, unfortunately,” said Lisa Rusyniak, Goodwill CEO.

Some 400 volunteers served food donated through Martin’s Caterers.

“Turkey, I had rice, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and cranberries,” one woman said.

It’s a 56-year-old tradition in Baltimore.

“I heard about the dinner they were having, and so me and my family came down to have dinner,” another woman said.

Even though he’s very busy, Santa stopped in to say hello.

“It really brings a lot of emotion because it’s the spirit of Christmas, and it starts with this,” Santa said.

Even though the Goodwill dinner typically benefits the homeless, even those who aren’t out on the streets say it helps them when they can’t afford to make a meal like this at home.

“It helps a lot because the fact is, I am running low on food and I can save the little bit I have and come down and have a meal and everything,” one woman said.

Tickets are distributed before hand to Goodwill partners. But no one is turned away.

“At the very end, anyone can come through the door,” Rusyniak said.

And as everyone leaves dinner, they are invited to attend a resource fair where there’s important information to help people find jobs and health care.

Hundreds of coats were also given away as people left.


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