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4,000 meals prepared for annual Giving Hearts Community Feast

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 3:14 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 3:31 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Thousands are expected to gather at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Thanksgiving for the annual Giving Heart Community Feast.

Volunteers have been heating turkeys, slicing hams and dicing veggies since Monday.

“I’m ready for my next turkey!” Faye Gore yelled across the kitchen, now taking on her seventh turkey of the day. It’s her second day this week, the third year in a row.

With less than 24 hours until the big day, volunteers like Gore have been chopping away inside the Greater Richmond Convention Center all week.

“I’m always bringing my A-game,” Gore said. “My kids, my family is away in Florida, and I have a daughter and a grandson here. So I just figured this was a great opportunity.”

Head Chef Matt Smythe spent much of the morning taking the cooked turkeys out of the oven to be cut up by the volunteers.

“500 pounds of ham ready to go tomorrow. We’ve got 140 turkeys here, and another 120 turkeys here that will get joined by their friends tomorrow for a total of 500,” he said, adding on to the hundreds of pounds of veggies, sauces, bread rolls and other delectables.

Like last year, it won’t be a sit-down feast because of COVID-19 safety measures, instead Giving Heart offers walk-ins, deliveries and curbside pick-up. This means a lot of manpower is needed to make sure everything goes smoothly.

“Last year, we were expecting 3,000-3,200, and we actually ended up running short on food, so this year we cranked up to that 4,000 number,” said Chef Smythe.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was also on the line today, one of his many volunteering stops.

“A lot of us get to go home to our families and be around our loved ones, but a lot in our community don’t get to do that tomorrow. I get to serve every day, but there’s nothing like Thanksgiving and the day before,” Stoney said.

But whether it’s a first-time volunteer or a more seasoned pro, the motivation is the same: allowing someone to have something to be thankful about for the holiday.

“I’m blessed, and this is a great way I can help,” Gore added.

Food will be given out at the center from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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