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Thousands Spend Black Friday Packing Meals For Families In Need

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Thousands of people pouring through the doors on Black Friday would make you think they were scrambling for deals, but instead they were scrambling into action to pack meals for local families in need.

"We're terribly excited. We're going to have 3,000 people here that are going to pack 1 million meals in two hours," Stephen Popper with Meals of Hope said. "All that food is staying right here in the greater Pittsburgh area."

Friday's event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center was organized by Meals of Hope whose mission is to bring communities together to end hunger.

Volunteers came from within the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and all churches of the Pittsburgh area, regardless of denomination.

"So we're actually putting a sticker on there thanking the churches and we're calling it 'The Church Of Pittsburgh,'" Popper said, "and that encompasses all the churches of the community."

In those boxes -- a fortified macaroni and cheese meal with extra soy protein and a cheese sauce blend that has 21 different vitamins and minerals.

"I really wanted to give back to the community and support feeding the homeless," volunteer Christina Esposito, of Cranberry, said. "This is amazing. It's so festive and it's fantastic that it brings people in Pittsburgh together on Black Friday instead of shopping."

Before they got to work, the day began with a worship service.

"It was really beautiful to see people that were getting spiritually fed and getting excited," Father Levi Hartle of the Holy Apostle Church said. "I think it gives hope that there is still a heart that's not just about me and what I can get, but a heart to give and to help other people."

Friday's meals were delivered to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, which will distribute them to local families. Meals of Hope has provided more than 37 million meals nationwide.

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