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Thousands in need served hot Thanksgiving meal in Grand Rapids

Volunteers serve Thanksgiving at DeVos Place
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Volunteers serve Thanksgiving at DeVos Place

More than 600 volunteers served people in need a hot Thanksgiving meal today in Grand Rapids. Thousands of homeless, elderly, sick and downtrodden came for the feast.

Bill Genest is wearing a couple coats, gloves, a warm hat and worn-out blue jeans. He brought all his belonging with him in a black backpack. This is not how he normally gets something to eat. “To be honest with you, I fly a sign,” Genest said. He says the cardboard sign says ‘homeless vet’. “I am a homeless vet. It’s hard to talk about though for an old man,” Genest said. He struggles to hold back tears. “The road life sucks really, it sucks.” He stays most nights at a shelter run by Mel Trotter - the ministry putting on the event.

Chico Daniel is pastor and CEO. “The bible says that the poor are going to be treated like princes and kings one day and they’re going to sit at the wedding feast in heaven and so this is just a fore taste of what’s to come,” Daniel said.

He says this is the organization’s major event of the year. More than 600 volunteers from churches throughout the region waited on their guests inside the massive, fancy ballroom. “We want to be know for showing compassion to the poor, the lame, the crippled, the blind and so this really says a lot that we’re willing to take a palace like Devos Place and invite the poor to come in and feast like they are king and queens,” Daniel said.

This is the 14th year the ministry has put on the event.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.