CHICAGO (WLS) -- The line was already around the block before the doors to BJ's Market and Bakery opened, people taking up the offer of a free meal from the Englewood restaurant.
"I think there's a need in our community and if we can do it we should do it," said Hank Meyers, co-owner of BJ's Market and Bakery.
Meyers owns BJ's with his brother John, who was busy helping to prepare 2,500 meals to give away.
They call the annual holiday tradition Operation Hope.
It's a major undertaking, but they're happy to do it with the help of several organizations, including St. Sabina Church.
"Our job is to say at least tonight, we're going to give you a warm, good, free meal," said Father Michael Pfleger.
And that meal is much appreciated by people who live and work in the community.
"Hot food in your stomach, always makes you feel good. It always does. I thank them for it," said Casey Green, Englewood resident.
"I work nights so this is dinner for me. So I'm grateful," said Vanessa Abrons, Englewood resident.
The event is a reminder that the holidays are about giving and helping others in need.
"It's good in the community, things like this to give to the people who don't have," said resident Antewan Black.
This was the 10th year for Operation Hope. It's scheduled to end at 7 p.m., but they'll keep going until the last person is served.
Annual Operation Hope event gives away 2.5K meals in Englewood
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