Memphis working out details to host Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The organizer of Memphis' annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless says he's happy the city stepped in to host the event at Memphis City Hall after it was almost canceled due to construction at the Memphis Convention Center.

Earl Sayles, an organizer with the Thanksgiving Dinner Committee, said this is the biggest outpouring of support the event has ever had.

But there are still a whole lot of details to be worked out, from where to cook the food to where to park.

The City of Memphis announced that the dinner — now known as Mem Feast — will take place in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Earlier in the week, the city said the dinner, which is organized by nonprofit Thanksgiving Dinner Committee, was taking a hiatus after three decades at the convention center.

"We didn't want to see it fail," said Ursula Madden with the city. "So, we did everything that we could to make sure that it was going to be able to happen."

Sayles said the event can cater to up to 1,000 people. He said the city needs to consider not only how many chairs and tables they would need but medical attention, ways to keep the food warm, and even the number of bathrooms.

Madden said the city is still working on those details.

"I just want to let people know that we are working through it," she said. "As soon, as we have that plan put together, we'll let you know about it."

Steven Pennington, who said he's been down on his luck and living on the streets for the past week, said he plans to attend the event this year.

"People look forward to it," he said. "People don't have a lot to look forward to, some."

Pennington said he and many others are thankful for the dinner and says he's happy to see the tradition continue.

"A Thanksgiving dinner, it goes back to our childhood," he said. "It brings people together and it's a sense of reunion and it's just a good day for people."

Right now, the city says they are looking for volunteers as well as donations.

To volunteer, click here. To make a donation, click here.

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