For 44 years, the Chattanooga Rescue Mission has provided Thanksgiving dinner plates to people in need in our area. 

"We've got a lot of people coming, (we're) expecting about 500 meals today," Chaplain Donald Baer told Channel 3.

That tradition continued Thursday with hundreds of people served in more ways than just a hot meal.

"There's other things that go on here besides feeding the hungry. We try to feed them their spiritual needs, clothing, whatever we can do," said Volunteer Counselor Woody Walters.  

For many of Chattanooga's less fortunate, a hot meal goes a long way.

"Every single night, there's someone who comes in here and they're soaking wet because it's been raining. They don't know what to say, what to do, they don't even know how to ask," Walters explained.

For volunteers with the Chattanooga Rescue Mission, the goal wasn't just feeding those who stopped by on Thanksgiving for the annual feast. Walters says it's about showing people who feel forgotten a little kindness.

"People look you in the eye, they shake your hand and they are glad that you're here. They are glad that you're here and that's a big deal when you're on the streets because so many people try to brush you along," Walters said.

He says it's also a way to help them take the first steps in overcoming their circumstances.

"Most people are not here through their own choices accept that they make a couple of bad choices," he went on.

Walter says he was one of those people and battled alcoholism for more than 30 years before coming to the rescue mission.

"It's my honor to be able to be a part of giving back."

Administrative Chaplain Donald Baer says the need in Chattanooga is greater than ever. 

"We have more people in our mission today than we've ever had," he told Channel 3.

They hope through outreach programs like this one, they can continue meeting that need--big or small.

Outside the rescue mission building, volunteers also gave out shampoo, soap, lotion and other essential items to people who came by Thursday.

If you're interested in learning about other programs the rescue mission puts on or becoming a volunteer, you can click here.