The Salvation Army fed Thanksgiving dinner to 2,404 people last year at shelters in Fort Worth, Dallas and Denton.
"People might off the cuff tend to think of going to a homeless shelter for a meal as a downer experience," Salvation Army spokesman Pat Patey said. "I go to a shelter every year for the activity. It's a festive and uplifting day."
Patey said he expects the Salvation Army to serve at least that many people this year, and many churches and charities will also open their doors to anyone who needs a plate of turkey and dressing.
Shelters at 1855 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth and 5302 Harry Hines Blvd. in Dallas are the Salvation Army's primary locations for the dinners, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday. They'll also have dinner for residents only in a Denton shelter, Patey said.
The traditional meals include turkey, dressing, yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pumpkin and pecan pie.
"We generally have table decorations, make it festive," Patey said. "It isn't just homeless people who are coming. There are families that come in that can't afford the expense of such a luxurious meal. They can come to the Salvation Army and eat, and it doesn't cost a dime."
Mission Arlington Executive Director Tillie Burgin said about 250 meals will be served Thursday. But volunteers will take turkey dinners in boxes to about 5,000 families at their homes. "We're trying to keep them from spending a lot on turkey dinner, then being homeless the next week," she said.
Union Gospel Mission, 1321 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth, had a Thanksgiving dinner Saturday for former residents who moved out in the past year, spokeswoman Betty McIlroy said.
"They got a hot meal here, then a gift box for preparations for Thanksgiving dinner," she said.
But the shelter serves dinner Wednesday and Thursday too, McIlroy said. "We feed about 600 meals a day," she said. "It's open to everyone. Just check in at the front door and go through a chapel service."
The main distribution day for Harvesting International Ministry Center, the food bank at 560 Easy Drive in Mansfield, is today, but spokesman Gregory Dewbrew said folks can also show up Wednesday.
"We'll help people as long as they come to us, up to about 4 p.m. Wednesday," he said. "We're planning for about 300 families, and we'll help all that we can."
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620