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Wheeler Mission to serve 800 Hoosiers for Thanksgiving

The shelter is preparing 100 turkeys ahead of the holiday.

INDIANAPOLIS — Families across central Indiana are getting ready for the Thanksgiving Day feast. But one Indianapolis shelter is prepping for hundreds of guests. 13News went inside the kitchen of Wheeler Mission, where it takes a village to feed families in need, and the community makes it all possible.

At Wheeler Mission's location on East Market Street, there's no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen.

"Our job is just to be prepared at all times," said Wheeler Mission head chef and Director of Food Service Sam Brown. "We are, right now, getting ready to make the last 25 for a total of 100 turkeys."

Thanksgiving dinner preparations are already underway at the shelter for men downtown. Brown said he's trying to make sure there's enough food for Indianapolis' entire homeless community, just in case they happen to show up at the door.

Chef Brown and his team will feed 800 people from one kitchen. 

"The need is so great," Brown said.

It's even greater because of the pandemic. Despite supply chain issues, they will deliver food to six Wheeler Mission locations.

"(The) thing about Thanksgiving is everybody comes together," Clifton Campbell said.

Campbell said if it weren't for Wheeler Mission, he'd probably be out on the streets.

It's all made possible by the annual Drumstick Dash. Wheeler Mission has raised $110,000 this year. More packets picked up means more funding for the shelter.

"Without the Dash, yeah, we're in trouble," Brown said.

It also means Chef Brown can continue the grind that he calls an honor.

"My goal is just to make sure that everybody who I have an opportunity to feed gets culinary excellence — great food, great fellowship and just give us a chance to be thankful for what we have," Brown said.

Thanksgiving dinner is from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at all six Wheeler Mission locations. Guests can stay for dinner or take it to-go.

MORE: Volunteers assemble Thanksgiving meal kits