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Rescue Mission serves Day-Before-Thanksgiving meals to needy

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-21 21:11:58-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Many Utahns will be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends in the comfort of their homes, but thousands of homeless Utahns don't have that luxury.

The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake got a head start on serving many of those people in need with their annual Day-Before-Thanksgiving Banquet.

Hundreds of homeless, unemployed or financially struggling families filled the rescue mission for a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Visitors were also offered free winter clothing, flu shots, hair cuts and even a hot shower if they needed it.

"And the goal is, as they celebrate Thanksgiving and realize there's things to be thankful for is to build hope and hope is a powerful motivator," said Jason Gove.

Last Thanksgiving, Gove was homeless thanks to some powerful addiction issues, but he says the Rescue Mission gave him the hope and help he needed to battle those demons. This year, he's in treatment and running the kitchen for the annual banquet.

"I've been down here since 4:30 yesterday morning. I'm worn out but I'm excited because of the people's smiles on their faces and them telling me, 'Thank you.' It means a lot," Gove said.

Patty Jorgensen and her family volunteer at the Rescue Mission every year. While she and her husband dish up dinner in the kitchen, her children serve visitors in the dining room.

"We just feel we've been so blessed," said Jorgensen. "And so for our kids to help others, to realize how fortunate they are and how blessed they are."

Chris Crosswhite says they served about 1,200 meals between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and around 1,500 meals altogether on Wednesday.

The Rescue Mission is privately funded and they're always looking for volunteers and donations. For more information, visit www.rescuesaltlake.org.