Opelika man gives back to the community both near and far - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Opelika man gives back to the community both near and far

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OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) -

It's not the circus in town, but the big top arrived in Opelika Thursday to provide meals to the less fortunate at the Harvest Evangelism's annual Thanksgiving feed.

"We just invite people from all over the community and as you can see we have a great response of men and woman, boys and girls, that come out and help put together thanksgiving meals that we are going to take out to hungry needy people in our community," explains founder of the Harvest Evangelism, Rich Hagans.

Hagans has been coordinating this Thanksgiving feed for 15 years and with a lot of help from the community they have prepared over 100 turkeys and all the trimmings.

He and his volunteers are expecting to serve more than 1,000 meals to those less fortunate in the Auburn/Opelika community.

"I think you're more thankful not by how much you give, it's the giving that makes the difference," says Hagans.

Hagans seems to be a man that does not sleep.

Just Wednesday night he returned from a two-week stay in new York, coordinating disaster relief efforts to assist Hurricane Sandy survivors.

After the day's feed, he will return to New York to continue helping.

"Some of our team stayed up there to do disaster Thanksgiving on Stanton Island and they were just calling us saying the Macy's Day Parade is just starting, a New York Thanksgiving tradition. Well, this is our East Alabama, Auburn, Opelika tradition, Thanksgiving under the big top," explained Hagans.

Clay Harris is one volunteer helping and he is especially happy to be here in Opelika because last year at this time he was deployed overseas.

"It feels great. This time last year I was running missions in Iraq and it feels good to be home, my first time in three years and I feel really blessed. I'm just celebrating what Thanksgiving is all about which is giving to your community."

No doubt, this is a group that puts the meaning of thanks back into Thanksgiving.

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