COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) In this season of giving, a local church is making sure those in need have a full meal to eat on Thanksgiving Day.
From the pulpit to the community, Bishop R. Ray Gatewood has helped lead "Operation Holiday Uplift" for 11 years.
Volunteers from across the area poured in to Bethesda Fellowship Ministries in Copperas Cove on Sunday to help fill 300 boxes with a complete meal. The boxes included stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
On Monday, volunteers will add a turkey to the box and deliver them to residents on Casa Drive, Sunset Lane, Horeshoe Drive, Copperas Cove Housing Authority and adjacent apartments. Any boxes leftover will be delivered in the city of Killeen.
Gatewood says officers from the Copperas Cove Police Department will help escort volunteers and their vehicles to neighborhoods.
"We simply give the basket and say 'God bless you. Have a great Thanksgiving, have a great Christmas,'" Gatewood said.
It’s a tall task that took weeks to plan, but in the end it was worth every second.
"It's amazing. It feels really good to knock on people's door. They smile because they (have been) waiting," organizer Carmen Rivera said. "Once you give, sometimes they give you a hug. That's more than any price they can give us."
Gatewood says the operation is both fulfilling and a reminder of the good in helping others.
"I could not imagine us not doing this operation each year, now that we have begun to do it," he said.
Each year, funding and resources come from the church and local groups – including a large contribution from the Killeen-area chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta, Phi Beta Sigma, Kappa Epsilon Phi and Kappa Lambda Chi, Shoemaker High School, Ellison High School and Wheatley Alternative School also participated.