SAN FRANCISCO (Amber Lee/KTVU) - On this night before Thanksgiving, dozens of volunteers from different parts of the Bay Area came together in San Francisco to give back.
The Arab American Catholic Community made hundreds of meals for the homeless at the church they attend: St. Thomas More. They give the meals out by going into various neighborhoods.
This is the fifth year this community group has spent Thanksgiving Eve offering food to the homeless. For dozens of volunteers, it’s become an annual tradition. They prepare simple meals of sandwiches, snacks and fruits.
"This will set off that Thanksgiving season and Christmas season. This will put the right message in kid’s minds," said Dina Bshara, a youth group leader with Arab American Catholic Community
As the season of giving nears, Thanksgiving Eve acts as the launch pad to set the tone.
"A holiday known for a big feast and they have nothing. The least we can do on Thanksgiving Eve is go out to these people and give them a little taste of thanksgiving for themselves," said Diana Chalhoub, a volunteer.
After the meals are bagged, the journey to homeless encampments begins.
"Happy Thanksgiving. Do you want another one? Happy Thanksgiving. God bless you," said volunteer Seja Haddad as she goes up to homeless living in tents in the Potrero neighborhood.
The 21-year-old college student said it's her first time giving meals to the homeless.
"Doing something like this opens up your eyes to what the world is actually going through. Not everyone has what they want or need," said Haddad.
One homeless man in the Potrero district said he's thankful to be alive and for the help he's received from strangers.
"It makes me feel good that people care, you know," said Cory Lawler, a homeless man who received a meal from the volunteers.
Another homeless man said the volunteers offered more than a meal. It was a human connection with compassion and humor, plus a conversation about football.
Volunteers say there's an indescribable feeling of joy that comes with helping others.
"Some are scared. Some open their tents to us. But the look on their face is quite priceless. They're so warm. At the end of the day, we're all human beings,” said Tony Abuyaghi, a volunteer.
The homeless say small simple gestures of kindness helps them look forward to tomorrow.