‘It’s a time to give back’: Volunteers help local man serve 500 Thanksgiving meals to strangers

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CLEVELAND (WJW) -- Thanksgiving is still five days away, but the celebration is getting started early on the city's east side.

After FOX 8 previewed one man's plan to feed 500 people, he received an outpouring of support from volunteers wanting to help serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal Saturday.

"The first two days I cried, I cried because I was like this is a lot. I didn't think people could care like that," Rubin Swift said.

Strangers served plates and broke bread at the Cathedral Church of God in Christ.

"Black, white, Spanish, blue, green, yellow, they just came out and helped, it didn't make a difference," Swift said. 

Motorcycle club, Iron Heathens, and the Latin American Motorcycle Association, were among the nearly 80 community members Swift said donated time and food over the past few days.

"I said you know let's come and help, and at the same time he's helping us help the homeless in downtown Cleveland so I say well teamwork, you know community together," said BeeGee Toro of the Lorain chapter of the Latin American Motorcycle Association.

After serving meals out of his home for 300 in years past, Swift said the volunteers are helping him reach so many more.

"From 3 pans of macaroni and cheese to 30 is a lot," he recalled. 

While there's plenty of food for more than 1,000 people to enjoy, donations have come in for clothes, socks, scarves and 300 Beanie Babies.

"For the children, we have gift bags with crayons and snacks in it," said Shelia Rouse with the Cathedral Church of God in Christ.

Swift said the American holiday is one of his favorites.

"My mother and my grandmother taught me how to cook. So I love it and it's a time to give back," he said.

"That's what basically humanity should be about anyway, everybody coming together and giving back to those who can't do for themselves," Stephanie Gilliams of the Alpha Lambda Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

It was Irish poet William Butler Yeats who said: "There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't met yet."

Swift plans to hold another large Thanksgiving meal next year. 

Click here to see where you can get a free meal this Thanksgiving. 

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