FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A tradition to help feed the homeless and less fortunate came to Fayetteville for its seventh year. Operation Turkey joined forces with the 82nd Airborne Association's Fayetteville Division to pass out thousands of Thanksgiving meals.
There were about 100 volunteers who came out and sacrificed their Thanksgiving to prepare and give out turkey dinners.
"We've been putting it together and pushing out as hard as we can to support the community," said Venassia Gunter, the lead volunteer coordinator of Operation Turkey Fayetteville.
The organizer said the goal is to give out 8,000 meals in Cumberland County and even more in other parts of North Carolina. Folks getting a plate can look forward to mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, yams, cranberry sauce and lots and lots of turkey.
"Everything has a touch of home to it. You put your special touch on everything," Gunter said. "(O)nce you fix it for the community, just think of it as if you're fixing it for your family."
Volunteers racked up 8,000 pounds of turkey for the big day. The food came through sponsorships and donors from individuals and community partners. Volunteers say the meals are handed out to vulnerable people like the homeless or the sick and shut-in. However, anyone who signs up or comes to the Operation's Fayetteville location on Johnson Street can get a plate.
"I've seen a lot of people who, unfortunately, they can't afford to celebrate Thanksgiving due to financial status or something they've been through, so it feels good to give everybody a nice meal because they deserve it," said Landon Farley, a volunteer.
The operation is also handing out toiletries and blankets this year. Volunteers say it's a great way to connect with others in the area.
"It's a beautiful experience. Just being around a multi-diverse community here. Fort Bragg is out here, the Air Force is out here, and we're just doing what we can to help our community," said Josann John.
This is especially true for those who are alone and separated from their families for the holidays.
"It's always good for people to get out in the community -- not just for them, but for themselves. It gives you a sense of purpose, it gives you something that you feel good about. It doesn't feel like you did nothing for the holidays," said Sgt. Christopher Longoria.
Anyone looking to get involved, or to connect with someone who could use a meal can go to Operation Turkey's website to learn more.