More than 1,100 Las Vegas residents were served Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday afternoon at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.
With trays overflowing in turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pecan and pumpkin pie, those in need were welcomed for the annual free dinner at the Rescue Mission. Volunteers also handed out blankets, beanies, scarves and stuffed animals.
Rescue Mission CEO Heather Engle said a meal of Wednesday’s size was not uncommon at the mission and required as many as 30 volunteers to put together. Engle expected a few more guests than usual Wednesday because of the cold weather.
“It’s what we do,” Engle said. “It’s what matters to me. I’ve been there.”
She estimates the mission has been serving meals since its inception in 1970, and cited the need for everyone to feel companionship around the holidays. She said she hopes residents sit down and talk while they face each other at the long tables with dozens of chairs.
“When you look at people with disgust, not one of us hasn’t been in pain or gone through something awful,” Engle said. “We’re all a few paychecks from a different life.”
The mission serves over 30,000 meals a month — despite a staff of just under 40 people — by relying on donations of food and volunteers. Each evening alone, Engle said, a community dinner precedes the residents’ dinner, and as many as 15 volunteers are needed nightly.
Engle encourages those who wish to volunteer to also consider months that don’t have holidays. Volunteers can sign up on the portal for either meal service or the thrift store, or check the requirements to volunteer here.
This story has been updated to correctly reflect the order in which the nightly dinners are served.