Around 500 people walked through the doors of Hurley Hall at Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday for the 12th annual Day of Giving.
More than 50 volunteers served a Thanksgiving meal to the community.
"Without this we don’t know what a lot of people would do for a meal," said Willimantic resident Darlene Spinnato.
Spinnato met up with friends who she said wouldn’t have had a holiday meal otherwise.
"It made me feel good inside to see that they did make it here. At least I know they’ve had a warm meal," Spinnato said.
Food drives at local grocery stores collected the donations. Eastern volunteers collected more than 1,500 items and almost $1,600.
"I think they serve the best meal without having to do any work," said 92-year-old World War II veteran Leonard Caya. He’s attended the Day of Giving before.
"To be one with the community. You get to see a lot of people here," said Tanya Parra Sanchez about the event.
Staff from Eastern’s Chartwells Food Service prepared the meal that consisted of turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and more.
Volunteers consisted of Eastern students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university. Many said on this Day of Giving, they were thankful to give back.
"Why not do it? My school’s giving me the opportunity," said volunteer Carly Weston.
"I feel like a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to have a good Thanksgiving meal. Maybe they’re short on money. Maybe they just don’t have anything to do fancy, but it’s nice to feel included in the holiday," Zaira Hernandez, a student volunteer said.