An army of local volunteers served thousands of Thanksgiving dinners to the city's homeless, needy and lonely.
Several hundred people, mostly men, lined up at St. Michael and All Angels Church, St. Paul and 20th streets, for a noontime dinner in the church hall sponsored by the Mid-Town Churches Community Association. They were served by volunteers from the Loch Raven Optimist Club, the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and other organizations.
"These people help us religiously, every year. They never miss," said Esther R. Reaves, director of the Mid-Town group.
At St. Michael's, diners enjoyed a meal of turkey, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie while a pianist provided background music of traditional seasonal songs such as "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow."
"We are sick and tired of the cutbacks. Everybody in here is in need," said Mark Wayne Roberts, one of the homeless served by the Mid-Town Churches group.
Some families ate at St. Michael's, among them Vivian Brady and her daughter, Myleisa.
"It's been downhill for me since 1977," Vivian Brady said. "I've been in and out of a homeless situation. I once worked three jobs. I never dreamed I'd be homeless one day."
She and her daughter now reside at a shelter at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1900 St. Paul St.
The hungry and homeless also were provided meals at the South Baltimore Emergency Relief Center's annual Thanksgiving dinner at Holy Cross Catholic Church in the 100 block of E. West St. in Federal Hill.
"There were so many volunteers -- people really want to help," said Michael McMullan, who helped serve homemade pies to guests. Cooks from the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel sliced the turkeys, which were donated by the hotel.
Second-year students at the University of Maryland Medical School provided meals to the needy at Booker T. Washington Middle School in the 1300 block of McCulloh St. in West Baltimore.
On the east side, community activist Bea Gaddy, who runs a daily soup kitchen, staged her annual dinner under a tent behind Dunbar High School in the 1300 block of Orleans Street.
"I was devastated by the number of children standing [in line] for a meal when I got here," said Morris Pattison, a resident of West Hartford, Conn., who was in town visiting family and volunteered to work with Gaddy.
At Dunbar, throughout the morning and afternoon, a stream of volunteers arrived with bags of food and used clothing.
"It's been busy all day. We give out dinners, bagged food and plates [of food] to take home," said Mary Ellen Wiltz, a volunteer from the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Mount Washington.
The choir of Israel Baptist Church, at Chester and Preston streets, stood in the Dunbar parking lot and sang gospel music. There were also Bible readings.
Many of the needy also were given used clothing at Dunbar.