MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- In an effort to make sure that everyone in the community got to experience the Thanksgiving holiday, Old Chicago in downtown Manhattan partnered with the Flint Hills Breadbasket, a local charity, to host a massive Thanksgiving dinner.
Guests filled the restaurant for a free meal Thursday.
"What a nice setting and a place to make people feel really good- white linen table cloths and decorations. It’s just a lovely place to have our community Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a lot of people out there who are by themselves on Thanksgiving day so it will be good to see people come out," said Maribeth Kieffer, Executive Director of the Flint Hills Breadbasket.
In previous years, the event had been held at Manhattan High School but the school could not host it this year so Old Chicago stepped in.
Some sixty volunteers were on hand to serve guests, including many Old Chicago employees and their family members.
"We want them to have that sense of a holiday, friendship, for someone to come in and feel like, 'Hey, I can come in and have a great experience with a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family and just be able to relax and hang out," said Mike Rice, manager of Old Chicago.
For those who attended the community dinner, it was an opportunity to enjoy the holiday with others since they don't have any family members in the area and would have otherwise spent Thanksgiving alone.
"It’s been delicious. It’s a beautiful place. I’ve not been to Old Chicago before and I find the food quite delicious. It just makes it all special. It makes you feel really welcomed and I really appreciate that. My family is in Texas and Florida and northern Nebraska so I’m basically stuck here. Both of my parents have died and I’ve made Manhattan my home," said Brenda Mayberry.
"It was a blessing. I got to see people, smile to me, say hi. People talked to me. It felt good," said Karlee Hronek, who spent most of her life in foster care and does not know her family. She says she hopes that others are thankful for their loved ones this holiday season and don't take what they have for granted.
Behind the scenes, volunteers also prepared and delivered hundreds more meals to those in the area who could not make it out of their homes so that they too could enjoy Thanksgiving.
Old Chicago and the Flint Hills Breadbasket expected to serve around 600 people this year.