WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Thousands shuffled into the Convention Center in the District for an opportunity to enjoy a hot Thanksgiving meal and enjoy the company of the community on Wednesday.

Safeway hosted the 13th Annual “Feast of Sharing” at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and hosted upwards to 5,000 guests. It took somewhere between 700 and 1,000 volunteers a countless number of hours of preparation and cooking to ensure District residents in need could go to bed happy and not hungry for the holiday.

The feast has been put on at the same time at the Convention Center the last nine years – the day before Thanksgiving – opening up its doors to a plume of that familiar Thanksgiving smell to needy families coming in from senior homes, homeless shelters and other areas all across the city.

Local luminaries were scattered about – as well as a handful of celebrities – like pop singer Mya, who clearly hasn’t forgotten where she came from.

One volunteer who helped organize the event said the number of people willing to volunteer just grows and grows every year, all sacrificing their time for the betterment of the community. And that’s exactly what it’s all about.

As you walk through the event hall – which has been transformed into a massive dining hall filled with round tables that are graced with pristine white table cloths and decorative ornaments – you can’t help but feel a sense of community.

Volunteers are everywhere.

156794605 Sharing A Feast With Thousands In Need of a Hot Meal

Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

They’re serving turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, yams and rolls, all from tables outlining the room. They’re walking between the dining tables, dropping off hearty meals and refilling drinks to citizens of the same community, who may have it just a little bit harder at the moment.

And they’re standing atop a giant stage at the head of the room, delivering keynote speeches – Mayor Vincent Gray attended – or a prayer before the meal, reminding everyone that no matter how good or bad we may have it, we’re all bound by a shared duty to each other to help our fellow citizens in time of need.

Groups came in what seems like busloads to offer their time, free of charge – companies like Salvation Army, Sun Trust Bank and CBS Radio – galvanizing their efforts for one common cause.

Even the football teams from Dunbar High School and Academies at Anacostia attended – coming together through community service – just 24 hours before they’ll square off on the football field to battle for the city title.

Services were offered, which included a job fair, with accompanying workshops for interviewing tips, resume writing and how to dress for success.

And whether you were there to eat food or serve it, all were able to walk out through the same doors with a renewed sense of community.

All thankful.

photo4 Sharing A Feast With Thousands In Need of a Hot Meal

The students of the Academies of Anacostia and Dunbar High School prepare to take the stage at the Feast of Sharing to be recognized for their seasons’ accomplishments, just one day before they’ll battle it out for the city title. (Credit: WNEW reporter Kimberly Suiters)


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