AKRON, Ohio - The Pavilion of Praise in Akron is like many churches, soup kitchens and charities on Thanksgiving. Members want to help as many people as they can, but could use more volunteers and donations to get the job done.
The church at 976 W. Waterloo is hosting its first free Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members, who spent the afternoon decorating the dining area, are expected to serve 50 to 100 people.
Ayahna Knox, 20, is encouraging anyone willing to donate food, money or their time, to head down to the church.
"Any servers, anybody that would like to clean, or even just come down and just to talk to some of the people that's here, just kind of give them hope," Knox said.
Knox's mother, Nikki Taylor, said the need in the community is greater than what one church can do.
"For whatever reason, however it got to be the way that it is, we see people on our corners everyday. They have to know that there's somewhere they can go," Taylor said.
Organizers of an annual race in Akron are also looking for help from the community.
The Home Run for the Homeless will take place on Thanksgiving morning. An estimated 4,000 people are expected to take part in a 4-mile run or 1-mile walk.
Registration on the morning of the event is $20 at 419 W. Exchange Street, and the proceeds benefit Gennesaret Inc., which houses a shelter for families and a soup kitchen.
"It's our only fundraiser. We get about $40,000 out of it. We're all volunteer, so it helps us throughout the year," said Bob Dirgo, the founder of the non-profit organization.
Runners are also encouraged to donate food, running shoes and other clothing.