So many local residents showed up to volunteer at the D.C. Central Kitchen on Thanksgiving morning that the nonprofit had to appoint a self-titled "volunteer bouncer" to help redirect their goodwill to other local soup kitchens.
Those who arrived before the cutoff -- some as early as 6 a.m. -- were put into an assembly line and tasked with one of nearly a dozen roles required to get an estimated 5,000 Thanksgiving feasts prepared and wrapped for delivery to area shelters and halfway houses.
"It's all about being able to help those who are in need, especially when we have so much," said volunteer Alex Monroe, whose Montgomery County sorority accounted for most of the 50 volunteers slicing more than 10,000 pounds of turkey. "It's rewarding."
In Bethesda, a team of about 40 volunteers representing a local outreach program for the homeless prepared meals of turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, yams and greens for an estimated 100 people.
Lawrence Black, the chief cook for Bethesda Cares, said he had been preparing the various courses of the meal since Sunday.
"My friend brought me up here to work in 1996. I enjoyed it, and I've been here ever since," Black said.
Back in the District, nearly 200 people turned out to Central Union Mission's annual Thanksgiving feast Thursday afternoon.
"I'm so appreciative that God gave me the opportunity to go through the trials and tribulations that I have in my life, and for this opportunity that has given us the ability to help ourselves," said Gary Holloway, who attended the meal.
K. Marsh, who also attended Thursday's dinner, said he was thankful for the meal and the interesting people he had met through the organization.
"It's good to know that this many people took the time to prepare all of this food for us," he said. "This isn't just cans in a parking lot, it's a full meal, and it's inspiring to see that people care about you."