Homeless prepare Thanksgiving meal at Citrus County shelter

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017, 5:15 PM EST

Like many homeless shelters across the country, Citrus County's Mission in Citrus is hosting a Thanksgiving feast. What's different there, however, is who's doing the cooking.

  • Homeless at shelter prepared holiday meal for themselves, community
  • Residents take pride in ongoing tradition
  • Former residents at shelter lend a hand with preparing meal

Unlike shelters that have volunteers give their time to feed the homeless, it's the homeless themselves staying at Mission in Citrus who are preparing the thanksgiving meal for each other.

It’s something the residents here take pride in.

“It’s kind of like a tradition, just like any other family tradition,” Tanya Lytle said.

This isn’t Tanya’s first Thanksgiving at the mission -- she’s been there before. But she said she has a job, and is hoping to be back out on her own in the next six months.

For now, she said she’s thankful to have somewhere for her and her son to celebrate Thanksgiving.

They are not alone. All the food residents cook will feed about 50 men, women, and children at the shelter, as well as anyone else who walks through the door.

It's not just current residents who helped make the meal, either. Many former residents also come back to help, because they say when they are at the mission, they become a family.

That family feeling is what keeps many of the residents going, which is why they’re willing to give what little they have to celebrate the holiday.

“I’ve never actually had a really good family type, and the way I feel now is everybody’s my family,” Michelle Dorman said.

Mission leaders did tell us some of the residents health issues and the rain today did bring in a smaller crowd than they usually see.