Community Relations Director Chantel Millin said people had been calling in since early September to work the dinner as volunteers.
“It is just a great way for some families to give back to their community and we have been overwhelmed,” she said. “We are serving Thanksgiving dinner today with a dash of love and hope.”
As the Hubbard Family Band played music, servers brought diners heaping plates of food and pies.
Sitting by himself, Phillip Allen said he was thankful for many reasons, but the by far the biggest reason he was thankful was because without the help he received by The Salvation Army in Tyler, he would have more than likely been in jail.
“I was an over-the-road truck driver, and I lost my license. I paid my fines, but I didn't have the money to get my licenses back, so I was homeless and ended up here in Tyler just wandering around.” Allen said he migrated from California to East Texas in hopes of work, but his hopes seemed to be out of reach.
Allen's luck began to change when he walked into The Salvation Army, and he was given a place to live.
Armed with a chance, Allen set out to put his life back together.
“I have been back to work for the past several weeks, and every time I come back to Tyler, I volunteer in the kitchen because of the help I received,” he said.
Looking up with teary eyes, the proud truck driver said, “If it wasn't for these people, I would be in jail or worse. Being homeless is really tough, so yeah, I am very thankful today.”
Alma Spencer and her 12-year-old son Sebastian Nichols, traveled from Gladewater to volunteer Thursday.
“We've done this for a few years, because we have our Thanksgiving the following week. My family is in the medical field, so they are usually working, and this gives us a chance to help others,” she said.
Maj. Doris Lawrence, who with her husband Ben, run the Tyler Corps, said Tyler is by far one of the best communities she has served in.
“Tyler is so unique, because the community is so giving and compassionate to others. I really feel that Tyler takes care of its own, and you do not see that in every community,” she said. “When we have a need and make a plea, the community of Tyler always steps in and provides what we need.”