PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s become an annual tradition for the Light of Life Rescue Mission to help feed those in need on Thanksgiving.

This year will be their first since moving into a new facility on the North Shore.

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The mission wants to serve as many people as possible with a traditional meal. They want to help any man, woman or child who may be without a home or facing addiction.

Last year was a bit different for them, dealing with the pandemic, but they still made sure to give out hundreds of meals in a safe manner.

This year it seems to have been a little easier. Preparations got started earlier this week and it was all in an effort to make Thursday run smoothly.

Local elected leaders like Mayor Bill Peduto, Mayor-Elect Ed Gainey and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald plan on serving meals.

For volunteers like Don Waite, it’s a 3 a.m. alarm.

“I go it’s going to be a long day,” he said.

Almost immediately after waking up, he remembers why he keeps coming back to the North Side Mission.

“I remember that every time I’ve come here, I’ve gotten bigger blessings than the amount of work I’ve put in,” Waite said.

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He started helping in 1996 making the green beans. He’s since adopted the name “the Green Bean Man” and hasn’t missed a holiday since.

“That was 25 years ago. I’ve been doing Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter ever since,” the Green Bean Man said. “It’s been an unbelievable blessing.”

Waite is just one of the almost 100 volunteers giving up some of their Thanksgiving to get more than 1,000 meals out to people who may not otherwise get one.

“We could not exist without volunteers and we have so many people willing to give up literally a few hours on their Thanksgiving to come down and serve those in need and we are so grateful for that,” Light of Life Director of Development Doug Smith said.

Some meals were packaged up for 14 senior high rises around the region and it was the first time the mission was able to have the holiday in their new North Shore location.

“It’s beautiful! It’s a night and day difference from the old shelter. It’s just a beautiful setting,” Smith said.

Even though Waite has to still work in the old North Avenue facility, Thanksgiving Day is a labor of love.

“Doesn’t matter where I do it. It’s who we’re doing it for and why we’re doing it. That’s the real blessing in the whole thing,” Waite said.

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The mission also gave out winter coats and hygiene kits in addition to the free meals. The meals will be served from noon until 6 p.m.