Reconnecting with Family; Free Cell Calls for Needy

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If they can't join you at the dinner table, you can still keep your loved ones in your heart this Thanksgiving, with a phone call.

But what if you have no home, or no phone?

This holiday, some of your neighbors are helping the less fortunate, make their connection.

"You know who it is, sweetheart?"

Raymond Wilson is thankful for a chance to try to get his girlfriend back. "She told me she loved me and everything, I'm trying to do the right thing."

Raymond really hadn't figured he'd be spending Thanksgiving at the Knox Area Rescue Ministries, nor did many of his fellow callers.

"Wish I was with you, there's a better way of saying it."

"The idea is to help homeless connect with loved ones, that kind of completes the thanksgiving holiday," says Jack Brudige from US Cellular.

So, after they eat their fill in KARM's tent of hope. US Cellular lets them reach out, for free,

"Well I love ya'll, give Momma a kiss for me, okay?"

"My granddaughter Paige is 11 now, and I haven't seen her for over a year. So I dearly miss them," says Annie Keyes.

Elaine Parker's connecting her mama, to her Granddaughter Anaya.

"I can't go nowhere without her, she flocks up to me no matter where I go," says Parker.

This year put her on KARM's receiving end.

"I volunteered down here, but I had a stroke, and now I can't volunteer anymore," Elaine says.

Some callers seek private reunions.

"I've seen people reconnect with their mothers and fathers they haven't talked to in years. It's been a great experience, it's actually helped some people get off the streets," says Brundige.

Raymond's not quite there with this girl, but Annie Keyes can end with a promise.

"See you later honey, I'll be home for Christmas."

US Cellular of East Tennessee has been offering the free phone calls home, on several holidays, for about 20 years.

Thursday, it handled almost 200 such calls