Early Thursday morning, as finishing touches were made to Thanksgiving dinner, dozens of volunteers began to file into the headquarters of an Atlanta nonprofit to help feed hundreds in need.

With over 50 years of serving Atlantans under their belt, Hosea Helps, a charity founded by civil rights leader Hosea Williams, partnered with Aprons for Change and Georgia STAND UP for a Thanksgiving day of service geared towards the elderly, unsheltered and cash-strapped families.

Some were veterans to volunteering on the holiday, having served over 20 years, while others came out to support what they felt was a good cause.

“This is a regular thing for me,” said Gloria Kilanko. “I’ve been doing this since I was 12 years old. I started off while they were at Turner Field washing (elderly patients’) feet because that was the only thing I could do as a youngster.”

Now, 25 years later, Kilanko still comes out to volunteer every other week and on holidays.

Afemo Omilami, chief financial officer of Hosea Helps, said there has been a significant decrease in donations. At the same, demand has increased 40%, challenging their mission, Omilami added in a statement.

Chef Tim Morgan’s menu of turkey, dressing, greens, mac and cheese, yams and apple cobbler involved three days of preparation and over 24 hours in the kitchen.

Morgan, who has fed over 15,000 people through his nonprofit, Aprons for Change, said that his own experiences with homelessness lead him to give back to folks who are experiencing hard times. This year he made 1,200 meals for seniors and the unhoused, partnering with Hosea Helps.

“I hope that it will resonate with people that we all are subject to homelessness and hunger,” Morgan said. “When people serve, it gives them time to reflect on what it looks like because sometimes when people haven’t been through it, they can gain empathy through the experience.”

Other providers around metro Atlanta have reported growing demand, citing higher food prices, the end of pandemic-era boosts of federal food aid, and the expiration of an expanded child tax credit. Kyle Waide, CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, recently reported a 40% rise in the number of people accessing food from its network over 18 months.

At Hosea Helps this week, volunteers also prepared and delivered food boxes, packed with enough to feed a family of four for two weeks, to the homes of families who demonstrated need.

District 4 Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall, who came out to serve food, wants people who may feel hopeless to know that they are cared for and loved during the holiday season.

“That’s why I’m always here on Thanksgiving and any other day,” Hall said.

Donna Green, a resident of Lillie R Campbell House, a senior housing facility, was excited to see volunteers drop off meals Thursday.

“It’s a blessing. A lot of people don’t have food or they’re not going out to see family,” said Green.

Sponsors of the event included Amazon, Coca-Cola, The Arthur Blank Foundation, Hormel, Kroger and MARTA.

Hosea Helps accepts donations at their headquarters (2545 Forrest Hills Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30315), their website 4hosea.org/giving and Cash App at $HOSEAHELPS. To mail your donation please send to P.O. BOX 4672 Atlanta, GA 30302.

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Volunteers work through the night preparing the 1200 hot meals Hosea Helps will deliver to people around Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.   (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Volunteers make up a Thanksgiving day meal for residents at the James Allen, Jr. Place apartments on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Actor Afemo Omilami says a prayer over the Thanksgiving day meals delivered to the James Allen Jr Place Apartments in Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Through a vast volunteer network, Hosea Helps prepared and delivered 1200 hot meals Thursday to people around Atlanta.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Volunteers make up a Thanksgiving day meal for residents at the James Allen, Jr. Place apartments  Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.   (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Beborah Scoot (Center) loads trays of food into boxes that will be loaded onto a truck and delivered to people around Atlanta on Thursday, November 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Dexter Samples loads boxes of Thanksgiving day meals onto a truck that will be delivered to people around Atlanta on Thursday, November 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

 Volunteers assembling the hot meals Hosea Helps delivers to people around Atlanta on Thursday, November 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

 Volunteers register before assembling the hot meals Hosea Helps delivers to people around Atlanta on Thursday, November 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Elisabeth Omilami talks with the volunteers before they start loading onto a truck the 1200 hot meals Hosea Helps deliver to people around Atlanta on Thursday, November 23, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Chef Tim Morgan (Left) says a prayer before the 1200 hot meals he helped to prepare before volunteers pack the food up for delivery on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Through a vast volunteer network, Hosea Helps prepared and delivered 1200 hot meals Thursday to people around Atlanta.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

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