ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The 19th annual People Loving People Thanksgiving Day served their Thanksgiving meal on Saturday.

Organizers distributed around 1,000 boxes in Hawkins County alone which they say feeds about 4,000 people. People lined up bright and early to receive their meals.

“It’s going to be good,” said James Parker as he waited to receive his box. This event is even more important this year with high inflation costs.

“It helps a lot and especially these days with groceries being so expensive. Everything helps you,” said Karen Hawsewright. She went with her husband and sister to get her box.

People Loving People say they are happy to help those people in need. Hawkins County Mayor, Mark DeWitte, has worked with People Loving People for many years and serves as their treasurer.

“This is our 19th year doing this so, we enjoy it and we just love seeing the people that come through and benefit from it,” said DeWitte.

Usually, they serve a hot meal on Thanksgiving day, but like the people coming to receive their box, the economy has affected People Loving People. The economy is one of the reasons why they had to make a change.

“There were several factors,” said the President of People Loving People, Dr. Blaine Jones. “The economy, the expense of doing it the other way, cooking the meal was going to be double what we’re used to. We couldn’t get turkey breasts for the meal. We were worried about COVID still somewhat. We lost our chef.”

But, Dr. Jones says they are able to serve more people this way, even though they miss the camaraderie that comes with serving a hot meal.

Although they’ve had setbacks, People Loving People are happy they can continue to carry on their tradition.

“Because it’s something that you overcome and the good Lord blesses you and you’re to turn around and bless others with it. And that’s what we’ve done,” said Jones.

If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance this holiday, there are other food pantries available in the Tri-Cities area.

The Tri-Cities Salvation Army serves a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day. More information on the times and locations can be found here.