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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 9:26 p.m., Saturday, November 18, 2006

Those in need get an early holiday feast

Advertiser Staff

It was just one meal, but for some of the 4,000 poor and homeless people who received an early Thanksgiving dinner today, the turkey, stuffing and gravy came with a message: "You are not alone; people care."

Both the meal and message were provided at locations all along O'ahu's Leeward coast through donations from Ko Olina Resort and nearly two dozen church and volunteer organizations, whose members said they want to let the homeless know they are an important part of the community.

"We are one with them, and we want them to know they are not outcasts," said Jennie Bermudez, an outreach coordinator with Word of Life Christian Center, whose volunteers were among the people dishing out about 500 meals at Ma'ili Beach Park today, one of 13 places where meals were served in what's become an annual event spearheaded by Ko Olina workers and management.

Ko Olina's Thanksgiving Outreach coordinator Pele Toomata said the effort was part of Ko Olina's commitment to give back to its community.

For almost a week, employees had been cooking the 2,700 pounds of turkey, 750 pounds of ham, 100 gallons of gravy, 600 pounds of rice, 400 pounds of corn, and 4,000 rolls and pumpkin desserts at locations along the coast, he said.

The meals were distributed by United Parcel Service truck drivers to church and community sites, where hundreds of volunteers were standing by to hand out the meals on paper plates, Toomata said.