SOUTH BEND -- They came in the Notre Dame jackets and hoodies, Cubs hats, even a leather jacket.
The smell of hot turkey and gravy and dressing permeated the small room.
And people were definitely enjoying the fixin's.
While in some ways this might have seemed similar to most Thanksgiving dinners Thursday in Michiana, it clearly was not.
People 10 or so deep were lined outside Hope Ministries downtown waiting for their chance to go inside and take part in a meal that included pumpkin pie and cranberry juice and plenty of vegetables.
"Delicious," said Sheree Harris, of South Bend, who described herself as a college student waiting for her funds. Unlike many there, she had a home to go to. But she said she would have just had potatoes, noodles and hot dogs, if she had not come to Hope Ministries.
"I think it was very nice of them to find time and spend it with people who could use some encouragement," Harris said.
Larry Lewis, of South Bend, who recently became homeless, also called the meal delicious, before pausing to thank and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
"It's thoughtful of a lot of people," he said. Lewis came by himself, as it appeared many of the 100 or so did.
The majority stopping in for a meal at Hope Ministries on Thursday were homeless, Hope Ministries staffer Lynn Turner said.
She could not thank the many volunteers, about 15 still down in the basement working and serving, enough.
"It's very important because some people don't have anything to eat," she said.
Among those in the basement serving was Orie Lehman, of Shipshewana, who was one of 24 Amish people who came over.
"We were offered the opportunity to do it, and we took the opportunity," Lehman said. "We're glad to be here.
"It's just a different part of life that I don't get to see back home. Ours is kind of structured social community. It's good for us to come out here and see something like this."
Lehman said he was happy to take part for the first time, though the Amish have been helping out for years, he said.
"It's part of what all of us should be doing," he said, adding it made him more thankful. "Thankful for what we have to eat and the way we live and all of that," he said.
The Amish contingent arrived at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and planned to stay until 2 p.m., "or whenever they wrap this up," Lehman said.
More than 100 volunteers and countless food donations resulted in up to 300 meals being served at Hope Ministries while 600 or more meals were prepared and delivered to Michiana residents who requested Thanksgiving meals through REAL Services and the Housing Authority of South Bend.
"It's a great help, and I really appreciate them coming here to do the meal and serve," Turner said of the volunteers. "They also enjoy it, too."
Earl Shull, of South Bend, said he recently started helping out at Hope Ministries.
Semi-retired, he helps out two hours each day, five days per week.
Shull said Hope went through 60 turkeys.
Clearing tables and delivering food, he said it was gratifying to be helping out, while so many enjoyed a quality warm meal around him.
"I get a lot out of it," he said.
Staff writer Jim Meenan: