APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — Thursday afternoon, hundreds of community members gathered at the Grand Meridian to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

“Ahh the turkey, I love turkey and corn,” Jonathan Schwartzkopf from Neenah said when asked about his favorite part of the event.

He also loves the company.

“You get to socialize with everybody and get to know everybody,” he said.

That’s a major objective of the meal, according to Christ the Rock Community Church Pastor Ben Korinek.

“Some people, they come here because they’re in need and it’s hard for them to provide a meal for themselves,” he said. “But some people come here simply because they love to connect with other people and they just want a place to come and have a meal with other people from the community.”

This year’s meal is even more meaningful to attendees and volunteers alike after last years was regulated to delivery-only because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” volunteer Daniel Bartman said, “to build back that community feeling, especially after everything that everyone has gone through throughout this last year and a half.”

Bartman brought along his daughter, Maddie to help out in the effort.

“I’m scooping food onto people’s plates,” she told Local 5. “It feels really nice because now I get to help others and serve food to them.”

On top of the meals served at the Grand Meridian, 2,200 meals were delivered to people across the community.

Jennifer Brownell served as one of those delivery drivers.

“My boys and I, my teenage boys and I delivered food to four different families today,” she said. “They took turns delivering the meals, and I just wanted them to see what that would be like to serve others.”

Volunteers donated their time to serve others, and be rewarded with smiles.

“Seeing smiles on people’s faces, sharing love with them, sharing food with them,” Bruce Moriarty, a volunteer said.

His wife, Jacque Moriarty completed the sentiment, “Just people that are here from the church and the community. Not everybody that’s volunteering goes to Christ the Rock, but it’s fun to see people stepping out on Thanksgiving Day, giving of their time.”