4,000 line up for free Thanksgiving meal

By: TOM ROEDER
November 25, 2009
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photo - The line wraps around the corner of the City Auditorium as people wait for the Springs Rescue Mission's Great Thanksgiving Banquet to begin Wednesday. Photo by The Gazette, Christian Murdock
The line wraps around the corner of the City Auditorium as people wait for the Springs Rescue Mission's Great Thanksgiving Banquet to begin Wednesday. Photo by The Gazette, Christian Murdock 

People began lining up on Kiowa Street before dawn Wednesday for a seat at the city’s largest free Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteers with Springs Rescue Mission expected to serve more than 4,000 people at tables in City Auditorium downtown.

Recipients of the meal, a traditional Thanksgiving spread, said the long line is a sign of the times.

“It’s fair to say it is a direct reflection of the economy,” said Jeremiah Ritz, who waited in line nearly five hours for the meal.

Springs Rescue Mission spokeswoman Kristin Oxendahl said most of the guests for the free dinner don’t fit stereotypes. The vast majority have homes and most have jobs, but they can’t afford their own holiday meal, she said.

“The majority of people we help are intact families and people currently working,” she said.

The event included more than food. Guests could sign up for free coats, a dental checkup and a haircut.

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