VANCOUVER - It's an annual tradition that goes beyond a hearty helping of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

On this Thanksgiving, the Union Gospel Mission served thousands of meals in Vancouver – and in the process its staff are hoping to change lives.

“A lot of people who are coming in today are going through the most difficult moments of their life," said UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka.

Hunka said more than 100 volunteers worked to prepare the meals in the days leading up to Monday, and many of them were there to serve the food.

“A lot of people who were once homeless are going to be volunteering and serving our guests today,” he said.

Jacki Stock, who was homeless last year when she attended the event, credits UGM for helping her turn things around.

She has been sober for more than a year and said the event helped connect her to the services she needed.

“Just knowing that there are people out there caring, it shows thanksgiving still does exist."