POSTED: Thursday, November 24, 2011 - 2:46pm
UPDATED: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 4:18pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — Bonnie Whitaker was the first person in line outside of St. Vincent de Paul. She's been waiting to eat since 8:00 this morning.
"I came here to eat Thanksgiving dinner with the people because it's a family away from my family," she says.
The line behind her just kept on growing.
"This is my twenty-second year, and I've never seen anything quite like this," says Michael Acaldo with St. Vincent de Paul. "It's going to be a record day for us."
As the group of needy and homeless walks through the dining area doors, they give thanks for a hot meal and a place to eat it.
"I'm so happy," says Josephine Lee. "I feel loved."
That is what keeps bringing the Beaugh family back to St. Vincent de Paul year after year.
"The best part is just knowing that you're providing a service for someone, that you're helping someone," says Richard Beaugh.
For the past four years, the family has volunteered their time on every major holiday.
"In the beginning, the kids were a little hesitant, a little shy, but now, they look forward to it. They say 'Hey mom and dad, we're going to serve this holiday, right?' I say 'yeah, we are,'" he says.
It's a similar story for the Megan and Sarah Major. The twins were at the dining room with their family.
"We love doing service. It's just really fun to see these people getting food," says Sarah.
The two girls say, working to help others really makes them appreciate what they have.
"I'm thankful for my sister and all of my family and friends that are here," says Megan. "I'm just so happy to have all the things that I have."
This year, St. Vincent de Paul expects to feed more than 700 hungry people.
"Looks like a record crowd to me," says Acaldo. "People are still coming through the door, and we're still make a difference, one person at a time."
It's a gift, folks like Whitaker, don't take for granted. "They really do help a lot of people and it really is a blessing."
By the end of this year, St. Vincent de Paul will have served more than 218,000 meals, a record number for the organization.