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East Tennessee organizations help those in need celebrate a happy Thanksgiving

Dozens of people volunteered across East Tennessee to help bring a happy Thanksgiving to those in need.

Thanksgiving is a time for people to reflect on their many blessings, and for some -- a time to be thankful for the generosity and kindness of others.

East Tennessee volunteers, first responders and others worked together in big way to help others celebrate Thanksgiving.

The Love Kitchen in Knoxville celebrated 32 years of serving Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

It was a bittersweet day, as this is the first Thanksgiving without either of the charity's founders -- twin sisters Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner. Ashe passed away last February.

►READ MORE: Love Kitchen volunteers thankful for legacy of Helen and Ellen

"They'd be happy to see us still carrying on. What they've built here is I think going to continue to build and get bigger and bigger," executive director Patrick Riggins said.

Across the way, American Medical Response ambulance crews were out reuniting families.

Each year, AMR drives patients from assisted living facilities home so they can be with their loved ones. For folks like Marilyn and her son Greg Nelson -- it's a priceless gift.

"It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without her, so we are we always try to get mom home for the holidays," Greg said.

Knox Area Rescue Ministries also helped to feed hundreds of people in need. The organization relies on the communities help to make their mission happen, and dozens volunteered this year to give back on Thanksgiving.

The 30-year-old tradition takes about 135 volunteers to put together -- and those who get to partake are thankful for it.

"Cranberry, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie. It was a great meal. Huge plate, if you come off hungry off of that boy, you can eat," Dean Irwin said.

The annual meal serves more than 1,000 homeless and hungry people in the Knoxville area -- but it's not all that's offered.

U.S. Cellular was also on hand to provide free phone calls and internet access to those who don't always have the opportunity to see family.

"It's heartfelt just to see folks connect, you know you see the tears and the happiness -- it's a joy. And that's what it's about," U.S. Cellular sales executive Pam Hardison said.

They were also providing internet access on tablets to access information about jobs and housing.

Mobile Meals was also out delivering food today to make sure everyone could enjoy a holiday feast.

Teams packed up Thanksgiving Day for folks in need. All year round, Mobile Meals delivers a nutritious lunch to homebound seniors in Knoxville and Knox County who can't easily cook for themselves.

"A lot of people go hungry or don't have any means to cook, and so to be able to deliver a meal to them so they can eat is rewarding. That's what we're supposed to do, and that's what I want to do, is to help people," volunteer Naquaina Moore said.

Dozens of volunteers gave up their morning to make the most of someone else's day. Mobile Meals volunteers not only to provide food -- but also friendship and welfare checkups.

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