According to Feeding America, nearly 600,000 Oklahomans struggle with hunger and about a third of them are children.
Religious leaders said breaking bread is a universal concept dating back to biblical times. They believe it's the church's mission to serve its neighbors in need.
"We started getting call after call after call,” said Rev. Steve Whitaker, senior pastor at John 3:16 Mission.
It’s a cry for help and a call to action.
"Here we are in November of 2020,” Rev. Whitaker said. “The longest year ever and we've got an opportunity to help people."
Leaders of local churches said no one is immune to financial distress whether COVID-19 results in costly medical bills or you've been laid off and could face an eviction.
"There's a food desert in this area,” North Peoria Church of Christ senior minister Dr. Warren Blakney said.
North Peoria Church of Christ hopes to be a part of the solution by providing 200 Thanksgiving baskets on Saturday to families in need.
"But, by the grace of God, that could be me,” Dr. Blakney said. “One job layoff, you know, one sickness that can be lengthy and that could be me asking as opposed to me giving."
Rev. Whitaker said they need help collecting 5,000 turkeys and fixings. That's about 44 tons of food to fill the food baskets they'll hand out next week at their Family and Youth Center. The baskets will be distributed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday.
"Well, they're going to find all the stuff you'd normally find at your table [like] green beans, corn,” Rev. Whitaker said. “We're going to have cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and all the stuff you need. Stuffing, potatoes. It's just really full. We're going to make it a great day for people, and of course, along with this goes a frozen turkey."
Rev. Whitaker said giving is truly a gift to those who serve.
"There's no greater joy than providing for others,” Rev. Whitaker said. “We get a lot of tears and a lot of thanks.”
John 3:16 Mission will also host a Thanksgiving banquet for the homeless on Tuesday night.
"Sometimes people who are struggling themselves will help someone else and that's the nature of church,” Dr. Blakney said.
The mission is accepting donations of frozen turkeys and nonperishable food items at several locations across the Tulsa metro area.
“We say around John 3:16, ‘Hope begins with a meal,’” Rev. Whitaker said.
The Tulsa Dream Center, The Salvation Army and several community food banks are also giving families free Thanksgiving feasts.