Operation Turkey volunteers prepare for big day

This Thanksgiving not everyone is fortunate enough to have big meal. That's where "Operation Turkey" comes in. Every year it aims to feed those less fortunate in Austin.

It all started with a helping hand on 6th Street 15 years ago.

"I found a gentleman who was in a wheelchair who was also mentally disabled. I gave him the meal but when I asked him did he have a chance to eat yet, he didn't say anything. So the gentleman next to him said that he hadn't and if I left the meal, he would feed it to him," Richard Bagdonas, founder, said.

That's the moment Austin's Operation Turkey founder Richard Bagdonas knew he had a purpose.

"I started crying and I realized I was hooked," he said.

He was hooked to the idea that a simple act of kindness can go a long way for someone who has lost everything.

"Operation Turkey brings out the best in folks," he said.

This Thanksgiving volunteers have been up and at it since the wee hours of Thanksgiving Eve, preparing a monster meal for the holiday this Thursday. Six-hundred-fifty turkeys, 1,500 pounds of potatoes are just a few of the items on the menu for hundreds of people.

"My perception of homeless people had been a different perception until I was actually on the front line seeing these people with heartbreaking stories," Emma Hochman, volunteer, said.

Hochman and her husband Jason said once they volunteered, they fell in love with giving back.

"Last year I was the person handing out the food to the homeless people and I was really blown away by the people I was meeting," Hochman said.

Bagdonas did not expect the volunteer-ran organization to become as big as it is now, branching off come from an act of kindness with one meal, 15-years-ago, on a cold Thanksgiving night.

Dinners on Thanksgiving Day will be held at the following locations from 8:00 a.m. until 12 noon.

PF Changs
201 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701

PF Changs
10114 Jollyville Rd
Austin, TX 78759

Gueros Taco Bar
1412 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

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