Philadelphia's homeless treated to 5-star Thanksgiving feast

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- They call it, "The Great Family Gathering," thousands of homeless and downtrodden from across the city, enjoying a great pre-Thanksgiving Day celebration put on by the Church of Christian Compassion.

"We reach out to every homeless shelter in the city of Philadelphia and those sleeping on the streets and bring them here," said Pastor Lonnie Herndon.

Along with their sponsors and Philadelphia Trolley Works, they gather as many as 5,000 of the city's less fortunate throughout the day and night and treat them to a Thanksgiving feast they'll not soon forget.

"From the time they get off the trolley till they're served in the line, our goal is to treat them with unconditional love and really make them feel really special," said Pastor Herndon.

Bonnie Earl is the coordinator.

"When I sit at my table on Thanksgiving, I can eat a full course meal, my mind goes back to people that are eating out of trash cans or have nothing to eat," she said.

For 17 years they have been holding this event just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Each year their greatest fear is not having enough to feed everybody.

"But God just continues to provide, one sponsor drops off, another one picks up," said church member Brahin Ahmaddya.

"This is beautiful, I love the energy here, they welcomed us in so greatly. This is a great thing that they're doing. This is my first time here actually," said homeless guest Tiana Colon.

"This is great man, this is great, this is unbelievable 'cause we won't be home for Thanksgiving," said Andre Hudson, another homeless guest.

"I'm so happy that we have this opportunity to be here because we wouldn't have had no Thanksgiving and now we got a little taste of it," adds homeless guest Gilbert Lopez.
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