City expects higher-than-usual turnout for City Hall Thanksgiving feast

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After first being cancelled two weeks ago due to construction, Thanksgiving dinner will be served in downtown Memphis to feed those who otherwise may have gone without a meal.

City Hall will host the annual feast this year from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and anyone is invited to attend,

No place to call home and never knowing if you're going to have food to eat are harsh realities for hundreds of people living on the streets of Memphis.

One man, Bobby, said he fell on hard times but refuses to let that stop him.

"It gives you something to live for," he said. "Who knows where your next meal is going to come from out here in these streets."

Bobby said when he can, he stays with family in the Roseleigh area. He then treks nearly 20 miles to downtown with the sole purpose of helping others facing difficulties, as he volunteers at First United Methodist Church.

He does have something to celebrate because, still a week before Thanksgiving, he already knows where he will spend the holiday.

"They have been a big help for a lot of us, you know," Bobby said. "Every year, I count on this."

Because of construction work at the Memphis Convention Center, where the annual Thanksgiving feast is traditionally held, the dinner was cancelled.

An outcry from the community led city leaders to find an alternative spot. The dinner is now back on, and City Hall will welcome Bobby and others to feast.

"It's a blessing it's right up the way," Bobby said. "That's the main thing right there. It will be packed."

City leaders said they typically serve 500-600 Thanksgiving meals, but this year they are expecting more than 1,200 to pack the Hall of Mayors in City Hall, and even spill into the Civic Center Plaza.

The food will be prepared at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and brought to City Hall.

Companies have donated dozens of turkeys and side dishes, but the city said they are always looking for more donations, especially when it comes to monetary donations, to help families well after the holidays.

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