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Holland shelter to feed 1,500 people on Thanksgiving | News

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Holland shelter to feed 1,500 people on Thanksgiving

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- With 500 turkeys and nearly as many volunteers, the Holland Rescue Mission is preparing for the Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

On Wednesday, the mission will feed 1,500 people, who despite the strong economy and low unemployment, continue to struggle to make ends meet.

Just about any meal can fill someone's stomach, but it takes more to do the same for a person's heart.

"You see smiles on people's faces, that they forget the bad things, they laugh," says James Edstrom, who is staying at the Holland Rescue Mission.

Edstrom is volunteering in the kitchen to make a meal and to be part of a family.

"I have no family anywhere right now, this is my family," Edstrom said.

Even the head chef says the Great Thanksgiving Banquet is much more than food. Many years ago, he was one of those in need at the shelter.

"There is a real pain there where you feel alone unwanted unloved, and here's a wonderful opportunity for our community to come in and say you know what, we're here we want to help," said Frank Wilson, food services director for the Holland Rescue Mission.

Even with a low unemployment rate in Ottawa County, there are challenges, like finding housing and transportation.

"I know people who walk three or four miles both ways to get to their job," Edstrom said.

"Fixing transportation, finding affordable housing," says Wilson.

However, at least for this week, the focus is on what they have to be thankful for.

"We all get together as a brotherhood," Edstrom said. "It shows you there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Edstrom has been unemployed for four months and he hopes to be back in the food services industry soon.

WZZM 13 asked if his experience in the food services department at the Holland Rescue Mission is good practice for his future employment.

"Practice makes perfect," Edstrom said.

Organizers of the event say they will use about 150 of the 500 turkeys and the rest will be donated to other non-profit organizations.

The Great Thanksgiving Banquet is on Wednesday at the DeVos Fieldhouse. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. and food will be served at 6 p.m.