Harrah's Holiday Outreach Dinner Feeds Thousands

RENO, Nev. - Thanksgiving came early this week for thousands of homeless and needy families in our area.

Harrah's Reno hosted it annual Holiday Outreach Dinner Monday, and hundreds of people were waiting in line hours before the first meal was even served.

"Many of these people are homeless, or low income living in motels with families," Janet Leis, Inventory Control Manager for Harrah's Reno said. "They've lost jobs over the recession. They just need some help."

The line wrapped around the block on 6th and Center streets, as the hungry waited for their meal.

"Each and everyone of us is just one paycheck away from being bankrupt, from losing our houses," Robert Reisen, one of the many receiving a free meal, said.

But this year's dinner lacked some very important items.

"Oh donations have been way down," William Fisher, the Volunteer Organizer said. "Last year I had plenty of money to buy gloves for the kids, coats for the kids. This year I was barely able to pay for the security. If I were able to get more donations I could help people in more ways. Food only lasts for the night, but gloves and coats and hats last all year."

But what wasn't lacking was the amount of volunteers. This is one of Harrah's most popular charity events. The casino's employees volunteering their time to serve meals. There's even a waiting list of people wanting to give their time.

"Every volunteer I get always comes back year after year, and they always bring someone extra with them," Leis said.

Some even bring their families to help out. Though there's usually more volunteers than they know what to do with, Leis says she never turns away help.

"I find something for them," she said. "I can't let a volunteer walk away from this event because it hits their heart."

Less than two hours after the first meal was served, more than 1,500 people had been fed. Though the line had diminished by 7pm, Leis said it wouldn't matter how long they were there.

"If I've got food, they won't be turned away," she said.

If you'd like to make a donation, call 775-379-0533.