The kitchen at San Jose's CityTeam hums on Thanksgiving

Although Thursday is a holiday, the kitchen at CityTeam San Jose is humming on all cylinders.

 "I was an executive with a hotel company. And after 26 years, I wanted to do something different," said Reynolds Stewart, the CityTeam executive chef and food service manager.

 He is leading a team of more than two dozen volunteers, as it crafts a traditional Thanksgiving meal for city’s unhoused residents.

 "It’s like, the least we can do to help our community. It’s thanksgiving," said 17-year-old Simon Cha. 

Added retiree Sara Bunting, "When you help other people, you help yourself. You never know when you might be the person in need."

 Starting Wednesday, this crew began cooking 60 turkeys, 200 pounds of mashed potatoes, 150 pounds of mixed vegetables, and slices of pie for desert.

 Normally, the less fortunate would come inside CityTeam to eat. But COVID-19 safety protocols mean the help must go to the masses.

 "They need as much protein as much volume of food as possible. Because this may be their only meal of the day," said Stewart.

 The delivery target is 400-500 unhoused residents in San Jose, who are in need every day, but especially on a holiday.

 "Feed the hungry, like Christ said. You know, it’s like, ‘feed my people, feed me too,’ you know?" said Alfonsas Sakauskas, who lives in a vehicle near  the intersection of Spring and Hedding streets.

 Faith is an integral part of the work here at Guadeloupe Park, one of several encampments in the city.

 "It doesn’t matter what church we go to. It doesn’t matter if we’re CityTeam, First Love, whatever organization that is doing it with the right heart," said Pastor Kim Moore, of First Love Ministry, which as out distributing meals and clothing. Added volunteer Dawn Coats, "It takes one person praying for you. One person reaching out, being willing to give. And 11 years later, I’ve been restored with my family."

 It’s a difference that was made in her life that volunteers and donors hope can be replicated in other lives -- as the true meaning of the season takes hold, one meal at a time.