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Kelowna  

Give thanks and give back

George Pierce has been clean and sober for 41 years, and off the streets for more than 20 years - but he still remembers his dark days like it was yesterday.

Pierce, 70, and dozens of other volunteers gave up part of their holiday Monday to help feed, and comfort, those less fortunate than themselves.

They were part of the team who will serve about 800 meals to the homeless and downtrodden at Kelowna's Gospel Mission.

"I'm a skid-row survivor from Vancouver," Pierce says proudly. "I've been in Kelowna since 1977. I was 29 when I sobered up."

Pierce says he was on the streets of Kelowna for a number of years before, through AA, he says he found himself.

Now, living in his own place, Pierce still takes the time to come to downtown streets to talk with people and support those who are where he was so many years ago.

"It was like yesterday," he says of his own experience on the streets.

Thanksgiving, he says is a special time for those on the streets struggling to get by.,

"It's more than one day. We all get to know each other like brothers and sisters here. We're all family here.

"The people I volunteer for, they're like my brothers and sisters, and we take care of one another. And, we give thanks for everything."

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick has been serving meals for Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas at the Mission for more than a dozen years.

"Whenever they need me, I like to support the community - same with Inn from the Cold," he said.

"I'm just one of many volunteers. You look around the room and you see some new faces, but you also see some veteran people who keep coming back."

Letnick says it's part of their DNA.

"We're born to serve and we go wherever we're asked, and the Gospel Mission keeps asking us."

A number of volunteers have been working for weeks preparing the dinner that will serve about 800 people.

They prepared more than 60 turkeys, 16 hams and 500 pounds of potatoes, vegetables and stuffing.



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