NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It is no exaggeration to say they are preparing thousands of pounds of food at one local outreach center.

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the Bowery Mission was getting ready Wednesday night to serve thousands of guests who otherwise would not have a place to go for Thanksgiving.

Ask anyone at the mission and they will tell you – the guarantee of a Thanksgiving meal should never be taken for granted.

But for Jun Munel Navedo, who is homeless, there was gratitude all over his face and in his eyes.

“Everything is beautiful,” he said.

On the night before Thanksgiving, hundreds of the city’s hungry and homeless gathered for a pre-holiday dinner at the mission.

“It means a lot,” said Luis Lopez, who is also homeless. “It means that people care.”

A lot of people care. More than 650 volunteers packed the kitchen this week to prepare for the biggest day of the year.

“We started cooking Sunday morning — actually, 3,700 pounds of turkey,” one woman said.

There are tons of food because the need has never been so great. That was clear to first-time helpers like Lance Polivy.

“Just see how appreciative each person is when they get that tray of food in front of them,” Polivy said.

It was also clear to veteran volunteers such as Nicholas DeMarco.

“There’s an urgency this year – especially, it’s just the climate of the city, the climate of the United States, with homelessness on the rise,” DeMarco said.

Volunteers will be serving meals on the hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to about 2,000 people — in search of food and a sense of family.

“We want to impact the community that we serve in a way that truly invites them to say, ‘Hey, maybe they do actually love me,’” said Bowery Mission chief executive officer David Jones.

The sentiment means so much to the thousands who will call the Bowery Mission home for the holidays.

“This place saved my life,” Navedo said.

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