People without a place to go found a home cooked meal tonight thanks to a Knoxville organization.

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(WBIR) People without a place to go found a home-cooked meal tonight thanks to a Knoxville organization.

The Knox Area Rescue Ministries, also known as KARM, held its annual Christmas dinner. Pastor David Lay with KARM said they expected between 300 and 400 people for the meal.

Most were just looking for a place to eat, people to talk to, or a family to be with this Christmas night.

For some people, Christmas is a time for family, but some will lose touch with their loved ones and are looking for a place to go.

That's where the KARM Christmas dinner comes in.

"We have regulars... we have people we have never seen before, and without exception they are thankful for what we are doing. They let us know in a variety of different ways how much they appreciate it. They are glad we are here. If we weren't here, they would have no idea where they would be or what they would be doing. And there are so many negative things that could happen on the streets," said Lay.

They make a meal and give you shelter if you need it and all just to make the holiday brighter.

"Getting to be a part of somebody's life who is missing something is what does it for me. Being a replacement family member or just someone to talk to or just anything to replace what they are missing out on. That's why I am here," said staff member Kenny Higgins.

"We just try to be family for them while they are here. And try to make sure they have a warm comforting touch and they know somebody cares and somebody loves them," said Lay.

KARM knows they can only fill that void for so long, which is why it also strives to get their guests back up on their feet.

"It's a way to come in the door. It's a way to receive a handshake... and some encouragement, and it just know someone is here for them... then we try to channel them into our other ministries like Crossroads Welcome Center. Getting them to go see what resources are available to them to help them get job opportunities, get back into housing or even just get back on their feet," said Lay.

Volunteers and staff sacrifice their evening... but for the overall better good... hoping to make a difference.

"I am very thankful to be here tonight... I know a lot of people want to be home with their families and I spent lunch with mine today. But I just love to be here. I am glad I am here now I love my job, and I hope tonight I get to change someone's life in some way," said Higgins.

They had about 20 volunteers making and serving the food for the big group.

Throughout the week, churches have offered gifts to many of the families staying at KARM's shelter. These gifts included things like socks and hats to keep warm, and toys for the children.

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