4,000 line up for free Thanksgiving meal

TOM ROEDER Updated: November 25, 2009 at 12:00 am • Published: November 25, 2009

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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