All over Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos men, women and children who didn't think they'd get a real Thanksgiving meal got a plate filled with delicious food thanks to an organization called Operation Turkey.
One of the biggest supporters of Operation Turkey in Central Texas is the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. On the day before Thanksgiving, off-duty members of their BBQ team bring their smokers together to cook close to 600 donated turkeys.
Those turkeys will be sliced up and distributed to serve 8,000 meals in the Austin area to people in need.
Mike Sargent is a corrections officer and while he smoked close to 40 turkeys in his home-built smoker, some of his inmates are helping with the sides.
"Our big kitchen at the Travis County Correctional Complex is cooking all the potatoes for Operation Turkey this year,” said Sargent.
Next to the pits, volunteers sifted through clothes and toiletries to give out along with the meals.
"Instead of them eating turkey all day long, I'd rather have them come help out the people less fortunate,” said one father who brought his family to the Operation Turkey donation site Wednesday.
"I took a vacation day to be able to come out here and do this,” said Sargent. Many of the volunteers have helped make this annual event possible by giving up their own time. But ask any one of them, and they’ll likely tell you it’s just as much a gift for them as it is for the people they’re serving.
"The selfless act of giving someone a meal, there's just nothing like that,” explained Operation Turkey volunteer Kevin Grogan.
On Thanksgiving, children volunteers will write messages of hope and thanks on the plates the food is served on. There are several locations all over Austin, San Marcos and Round Rock that will distribute the meals.
To learn more about Operation Turkey, click here.