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Utica Rescue Mission Serves Up Hot Turkey Meals to Those In Need

You could smell all of the delicious Thanksgiving food in the air at the Rescue Mission of Utica. There was turkey, mashed potatoes and pies, but you could also feel the true spirit of the holiday as hundreds of volunteers served the meals with friendly chat and smiles.
You could smell all of the delicious Thanksgiving food in the air at the Rescue Mission of Utica. There was turkey, mashed potatoes and pies, but you could also feel the true spirit of the holiday as hundreds of volunteers served the meals with friendly chat and smiles. Those smiles were shared by those truly thankful for a warm, filling meal.
"Oh, it means a lot, it just warms my heart to see everybody here eating," said Steven Gary.
Gary lives at the Parker House shelter. He’s been homeless for years. This Thanksgiving, he says he's thankful for the Rescue Mission.
"I’ve lived here all my life, been homeless all my life, and it's the first time I’ve ever come here,” said Gary. “I’m just glad everyone came out, it's a big crowd, I’m glad, it's really nice, it's fulfilling."
"The spirit of the people, the community, they just open their hearts out to the needy and the less fortunate and that's an awesome feeling, it's a great experience," said Hector Cruz who also enjoyed the hot meal.
Hector and Steven are just two of the thousands of grateful community members the rescue mission also fed Thursday.
Those on the other side of the kitchen counter say they're happy to be giving back.
"I love to do it because you can see the smiles on their faces when you just get a hot meal and they're so happy," said Riley Sanner, a volunteer at the Rescue Mission.
"We had a great loss in our family recently, so we wanted to do something special that would be meaningful and kind of change up our tradition a little bit,” said volunteer Katie Hughes.
All of the food served Thursday was donated by the community, including the 120 turkeys, over 300 pounds of mashed potatoes, and 274 pumpkin and apple pies.
"They’re busy there cracking open cans and cooking food, stuffing, mashed potatoes, they've got all the fixes, it's terrific," said Dino Labarbera who volunteers in the kitchen.
And Labarbera would know. He’s the General Manager of Carmella's Café. He closes his restaurant Thanksgiving Day and his entire family volunteers here.
"We're very fortunate, you know, there's a lot of people out there and even more every year, there's more and more who aren't as fortunate as we are and it keeps the kids grounded and lets them know how fortunate we are also," said Labarbera.
The Rescue Mission has been serving Thanksgiving dinner for over 100 years. There were about 150 volunteers helping out today and over 12 hundred meals served and delivered.

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