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Volunteers prepare to feed thousands

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Wednesday morning, The Salvation Army of Austin kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign. The organization hopes to raise $2.1 million which is an 11 percent increase over last year. It's an ambitious goal considering there are fewer days than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"We just felt it was necessary to increase our goal, have faith, go out into the community, do the asking and the people of Austin and Central Texas will respond," said Lieutenant Colonal Henry Gonzalez with The Salvation Army of Austin.

That money will help fund Salvation Army services.

Wednesday, volunteers are serving hundreds at The Salvation Army's annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Employee Roxanne Strong said, "I'm real thankful that we're here to help people and to be able to allow people that have nowhere to eat today."

Strong knows what that's like.

"I was homeless myself and living on the streets and I actually came down here to look at the program."

Giving back is also what Operation Turkey is all about.

"This is where we smoke all the turkeys in preparation for tomorrow's events," said Executive Director Brian Tolbert.

At the "turkey tailgate" about 450 turkeys are smoked in BBQ pits in order to feed those in need of a Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteers with the Travis County Sheriff's Office take part in the event each year.

"I think that this is good law enforcement work, giving back to the community, and there's a lot of individuals that don't have much to be thankful for and I think a good hot meal would be great for them on Thanksgiving day," said Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton.

Just a few days ago this year's operation was in jeopardy when the organization had only met half its $28,000 fundraising goal.

"Everyone within the community got together and they came out and they shined. They blessed us with over $28,000 of donations."

Because of that, close to 12,000 people in four cities around Texas will be fed.

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