NORTH PORT - It’s not only a day of giving thanks but also a day of giving back. Non-profit organizations on the Suncoast are preparing meals for Thanksgiving. HOPE for North prepare meals for families on Thanksgiving. 

Thirteen years ago, they served 100 people at one location. This year, they will be serving about 4000 people among 5 locations. Executive Director of HOPE for North Port, Steve Leclerc, says the extra locations came from their excess food.

"I didn't want anything to go to waste." Steve Leclerc said. "And, I wanted people that were already serving the poor and marginalized in their area to have the ability to break bread and follow up and have relationships with these people."

People from the Sarasota county can enjoy meals, door prizes, a carnival, and live entertainment at all the locations. It’s a free event open from 1 to 4 p.m. on  at five locations on Thursday, Nov. 28.

A co-director of the Thanksgiving Meal Outreach with HOPE for North Port, Larry Grant says they have been preparing all year for this, collecting hundreds of turkeys.

"We're going to be smoking 280 turkeys starting tonight at seven." Larry Grant said. "And we'll be smoking them until one–o–clock tomorrow afternoon."

A lot of hard work and money goes into preparing the event. A Partner Church is cooking all the stuffing and mashed potatoes for the event. Reverend David Schutte with Edgewater Church North Port says he is thankful for this opportunity to give back.

"There's something special and spiritual about eating and gathering with folks," Reverend David Schutte said. "And, it kind of is something that draws altogether. Society becomes more technologically dependent, we actually become a little more isolated that we spend too much time on the phone and not enough time just across the table getting to know somebody."

HOPE for North Port will be providing food at the following locations:

  • New Hope Community Church, 5600 S. Biscayne Drive, North Port
  • Imagine School, 1000 Innovation Ave., North Port
  • New Hope Community Church, 1401 S.W. Martin Luther King, Jr. St., Arcadia
  • Christ Lutheran Church, 701 N. Indiana Ave., Englewood
  • Trinity United Methodist Church, 23084 Seneca Ave., Port Charlotte