Before some people ate this Thanksgiving, they burned off some calories and helped a great cause at the same time. Thousands of people flocked down to Coolidge Park this morning for the 19th annual Grateful Gobbler.

The annual Thanksgiving tradition supports the Maclellan Shelter for Families, a local non-profit located at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

"I thought that's great, it gets us outside exercising and we can help someone on Thanksgiving too," participant Lisa Ham said.

The shelter is a self-funded organization that helps families facing homelessness during a time of transition. Stan McCright and his wife co-chair the event, now almost two decades old.

"The minute they come into that shelter, a navigator meets that family and starts the transition to permanent housing, jobs and what they need to re-establish their life in the community," he explained.

This year about 5,000 people participated, bringing in more than $200,000, 100% of the money will go directly to the non-profit. It's why Dale Hall has signed up all 19 years, this time he held a sign pushing for fair housing for everyone.

"The working poor continue to be left out of fair and affordable housing," Hall said.

The organization hopes to bridge the gap, they have 13-units, and 64-beds for people who need a place to stay. They provide a stable environment for families to remain together as they search for permanent housing solutions.

So far, they've helped about 600 families and counting, it's something McCright has seen firsthand.

"Within a few months they are now in permanent housing and there's a picture of her receiving the keys to her apartment," he said.

It's a lesson the Ham family wants the next generation to see and value what Thanksgiving is all about.

"That's the whole point why we got these guys too so they know they're here to help out and exercise," Ham said.

Planning for the 20th Grateful Gobbler will begin next month. Organizers say they are planning a big celebration for Thanksgiving 2019.

If you weren't able to participate this year you can still help support the Maclellan Shelter for Families for families you can donate on the Grateful Gobbler website.