Christmas breakfast means so much more to shelter residents

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Christmas day is filled with traditions, but thousands of homeless in east Tennessee rely on the generosity of others for a Christmas treat.

At Knoxville's Salvation Army, men and women from nearby shelters sat down for a special breakfast Tuesday morning.

"Breakfast was great. It was a kind of special morning, a homemade omelet for everyone with all the fixings," said Roger Campbell.

The omelets were a family tradition from kitchen director Thomas Orth.

Orth has been serving up Christmas meals at the Salvation Army for six years.

"People react very well to it. It's a very loving and kind environment. We get lots of 'thank you's,' lots of 'God bless you's.' It's just a real good thing," said Orth.

Orth knows the feeling well. After a battle with drugs and alcohol, he found room at the Salvation Army shelter. Once he was out on his home, he came back to work in the kitchen.

"I'm trying to give back a little of what I took and just trying to do a good Christmas for everybody and make everyone have a good day today," said Orth.

Now, he serves multiple meals a day including a special Christmas dinner for up to 1,200 people.

"120 turkeys, 60 hams, 200 pounds of potatoes, 200 pounds of cabbage and the list just goes on and on," said Orth.

Anyone's welcome, but the regulars have a special appreciation.

"Thank the good Lord he put us here... could be a lot worse," said resident Ed Thorne.

"Today for me is very special. Going through a hard family time. This morning getting up and just anticipating what kind of breakfast I was going to have... was a real surprise," said Campbell.

The Salvation Army's volunteer list for the holidays books up months in advance, but they need help year round. For more info on how you can help, check out the link below.

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