Friends from South Dakota travel to Tampa for Thanksgiving volunteer work

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To get turkeys ready for 6,000 people, it takes strength and teamwork, but for friends Shonna Haugen and Allen Kjesbo, it also took a plane ticket.

"Everything we have seen here is the exact same thing people need back home," said Haugen.

Part of a group of six from The Point is to Serve church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, they were inspired to volunteer at Metro Ministries in Tampa for Thanksgiving week by a member who had visited on a mission before. 

"We have the same needs [in Sioux Falls]," said Kjesbo. "Homelessness, hunger, lack of community, need for hope. all of those things are things we can identify with in Sioux Falls."

Part of Metro Ministry's immersion program, they will work with a hundred other volunteers in bringing Thanksgiving meals to about 6,000 people in need across Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

"We didn't have hardly anything in common, other than serving together," said Kjesbo. "That relationship I will treasure for a long time even though it was very short."

Although the needs of Tampa and Sioux Falls are parallel, our visitors were in awe of how large Metro's program is. 

They're helping to prepare 1,500 pounds of turkey, eighty gallons of gravy and over 1,000 pies. 

The lesson they're bringing back to Sioux Falls, 1,300 miles as the crow flies, is that one word sometimes means everything.

"That is what is so powerful here. The word hope, you see it everywhere. That is where it all begins," said Haugen.