Las Vegas Sun

October 6, 2015

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Needy escape cold weather for hot Thanksgiving meal


Christopher DeVargas

Homeless and needy families line up Wednesday to receive blankets, coats and a Thanksgiving meal at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Homeless and needy families line up Wednesday to receive blankets, coats and a Thanksgiving meal at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Beyond the Sun

The valley’s homeless and hungry gave thanks for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission on Wednesday afternoon as the organization served an early Thanksgiving meal for those in need.

Hundreds of people poured through the mission’s doors throughout the afternoon, escaping the cold. A classic menu greeted them — turkey, stuffing, a green bean casserole and mashed potatoes with pumpkin pie to finish the feast.

“This is real turkey, not the processed, slimy stuff. This is the good stuff,” said Frank Dold, who said he’s been homeless for 18 months. He said he planned to go for “the hat trick,” three servings, if his stomach could handle it.

About 30 volunteers worked to prepare for Wednesday’s event, said John Fogel, the mission’s director of development. They cooked 150 turkeys and mashed 400 pounds of potatoes, while Las Vegans donated about 200 pies.

Fogel said he gets satisfaction from “looking around and seeing people who might otherwise not have a meal like this — when you see it all come together. There are people giving support to those who need it, and I get to see the connection.”

Wednesday’s meal brought families together.

A man and woman who asked not to be identified met a relative on the street before coming to the mission. They hadn’t shared a meal in weeks.

“We’re really grateful for what they do, giving us what our family can’t provide us,” the man said. All three agreed the food was “really good.”

Although he was satisfied with Wednesday’s turnout, Fogel said, an important thing to remember is “the people that are hungry today are also hungry in February.” The rescue mission serves 30,000 meals a month and offers 2,500 beds for the homeless.

A local resident, a self-described professional gambler known as Robin Hood 702, said he heard about the mission’s efforts and decided to pay for most of Wednesday’s costs, which Fogel confirmed. He did not say how much he donated, but he hopes others will be inspired to help, too.

"This isn’t just a Thanksgiving and Christmas thing. We need to get other people on board,” he said. “These guys are doing a great job. There’s nothing worse than going to bed hungry."

One person who needed no prompting was 7-year-old Boulder City resident Blaze Trumble, who for a third year collected blankets and jackets from valley residents and handed them out on Wednesday.

His father, Don, said after a slow start, Blaze managed to match last year’s total of 600 donated items. Strip headliner Holly Madison chipped in, giving Blaze 200 blankets for his efforts.

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