Erie’s generosity shines through this time of year as several organizations and businesses provide thanksgiving meals to members of the Erie community.

One downtown restaurant continues its tradition with a food drive to make Thanksgiving special for everyone.

It’s year 11 for Calamari’s restaurant and 50 Mercyhurst Prep volunteers as they team up to package and hand out hot Thanksgiving meals for those that are less fortunate in Erie. The tradition began 11 years ago after the founder returned from a mission trip to Baltimore.

“It’s just very rewarding. It reminds you what Thanksgiving’s really all about and giving back to others and giving people a place to go,” said Rachel Honard, who founded the event 11 years ago.

Honard said they are anticipating handing out 1,500 meals that include pork tenderloin, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and more.

One volunteer said this tradition is long-standing in his family and Thanksgiving would not be the same without volunteering every year.

“It’s a very comforting thing in your heart to know that even the less fortunate are able to have a warm Thanksgiving meal, especially on a big holiday like this. Not everybody can have something on their table, so it really feels good to be able to give back to the community on a special day,” said Landon Spero, volunteer of four years.

A staff member of Mercyhurst Prep told us a message shared with the volunteers during the event.

“We got a chance to look across the street and in the bus station there were five people sitting there eating their meal that they just picked up from us. You point that out to the kids saying, ‘do you see where these people are eating their meal, and you’re going to have your meal in a nice, warm, cozy home. Just think of those that are sitting out there that don’t have what you have,’” said Paula Dworakowski, administrative assistant, Mercyhurst Prep.