PHOENIX - Thanksgiving is a time when everyone deserves a hot meal, and in Phoenix, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul made that happen.
NFL stars gather for annual dinner event
During Thanksgiving Day, a number of former NFL players gathered to help those in need during the annual Champions for the Homeless event.
"We have a doubling of homeless, especially among elderly homeless," said Nick Lowery, a Hall of Fame kicker who once played for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Lowery was one of several retired NFL players in Phoenix this holiday week, with a goal of helping those without a home this holiday season.
"When we find a way to help one person, it changes the chemistry in our brain, and we all have ability to make a difference," said Lowery. "When you see people feeling safe and loved and understood and respected, those other layers just disappear, and they all have individual stories. I think Thanksgiving has really gotten away from what it's really about: expressing gratitude and love. That's what it is about."
The Champions for the Homeless event has been going on for 16 years, and during that time, thousands of people have been fed and welcomed at St. Vincent de Paul's.
Also at the event were people who benefited from the event in years past, and now want to give back.
"I am a recovering addict, so I have been on the streets. I know what it's like to not have anything, so to be able to give back is something that's near and dear to my heart," said Katherine Potratz.
Also at the event was 13-year-old Baylee Wallace, who has been collecting and passing out stuffed toys to the homeless for years.
"They get like a chance to have a small friend to keep with them by their side while they're going through all that," said Baylee.
Besides food, volunteers also gave out plenty of clothes, $5 gift certificates to McDonalds and Starbucks, and free haircuts.