Food and fellowship: Holiday traditions carry on in Fort Wayne - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Food and fellowship: Holiday traditions carry on in Fort Wayne

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

A labor of love, making sure no one in Fort Wayne had to spend the holiday without access to a hot meal.

Two venues downtown put food on the table and filled a need for fellowship at the same time.

A true holiday tradition in the city.

Mid-day Thursday at the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, volunteers loaded trays with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and more.

Up to 4,000 meals were prepared at the organization that has roots dating back to 1903.

Lots of the meals were for carry-out, but Shane and Victoria Martin came to the mission dining room to sit down.

"To eat with friends and family," Victoria Martin explained.

"The fact that it's one time of year that people can get together without hating each other. It renews friendships, it renews a lot of things," Shane Martin said.

"I spent 28 years in prison."

Kenneth Sherry has no interest in hiding his checkered past.

He says the mission has been a solid rock that has helped him get his life set on a better course.

He looked forward to the sit-down lunch, and not just because of the tasty food.

"The world is so full of hate, and things like this are just awesome to attend. I'm thankful for everything, because if it wasn't for the rescue mission I would not have a life," Sherry said.

The mission's focus is caring for the homeless, but this event was open to one and all.

"This is the one day of the year where you can have 2nd's. We don't normally allow that on a normal business day, but this is the day, we serve you, you have 2nd's and 3rd's," said Laurie Brumbaugh, the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission's Vice President of Development.

Across downtown, a similar gathering helped people celebrate the holiday.

St. Mary's Catholic Church did what it always does on Thanksgiving, serving as a magnet for people with an appetite and hunger to soak up love and hospitality.

"It's more than just a meal, it's a blessing from God up above, and I hope I see many more and see many more people come here and some of God's blessing," said Andre Tatum, who brought his father to the feast.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades, from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, says, for members of the church, this day is about living what they profess-- love for one another, especially the poor.

"And it's also not just the material things. It's also showing kindness to the people who are in difficult straits," Bishop Rhoades said.

The history books would tell us, an autumn harvest feast put on by colonists in Plymouth Massachusetts, 1621, was one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the land.

Nearly 400 years later, the special caring on Thanksgiving lives on, long after the passing of the Pilgrims. 

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