Harrah's Annual Holiday Outreach Dinner

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RENO, NV -- Needy families from all over our community filled their bellies with a hot meal Monday night. It's part of Harrah's annual holiday outreach dinner.

For more than 10 years, the Harrah's staff and family members have been serving donated food by the casino to needy families. More than 1,500 hungry people lined up Monday evening at the tent on 6th and Center Streets, waiting what was for some, their first hot meal in weeks.

"It's a good hot meal. We ask them to come in and take a seat and we serve them as if they were a guest in our hotels," Janet Elise, dinner coordinator, said.

Thanksgiving is happening a few days early for these folks as they filled their bellies with pork loin, vegetables and, of course, hot apple pie.

"The homeless, we get meals, but like this is restaurant status. I asked for another Pepsi and they're like sure and I was like, 'What?'" Dustyn Cook, a guest, said.

"Everything is awesome. There are seconds, there's thirds, they offer you more, you get full, you go home on a full stomach," Jeff Eifenson, another guest, said.

More than 40 volunteers helped cook and serve meals to the growing line of hungry families who don't have any other place to go for a hot meal.

"I have employees come in on their day off to slice meats so that the meat's cut for tonight, the bakers who take such pride in what they do who make the rolls and pies. It's just a great event," Elise said.

Elise has been doing this for a little more than 10 years and says it's just a labor of love.

"Once you do it, you come back and do it again and I started out just like them, but now it's my goal in life to help others."

To her, everyone deserves a happy holiday. All the extra food goes straight to charity.

"Everyone is real nice and the food is good and everyone is talking, everything is good, everything and everybody!" Cook said.

"My job at Harrah's is only a small part of my life. This is what I love doing.

Harrah's next feed is Thanksgiving Day at the Salvation Army at Oddie and Sutro. Tuesday, the Silver Legacy served lunch at 6th and Center Streets.