Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless will hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Georgia World Congress Center this year instead of its longtime home at Turner Field.



Chief Operating Officer Afemo Omilami said the nonprofit was told last summer that it would have to move from Turner Field, where each year it’s fed thousands of people who were homeless or needed extra help, because of renovations to the facility.



“Of course, we understood,” he said. “They’ve been so good to us for 13 years. We never had to pay anything. It was a wonderful relationship.”



Mike Plant, executive vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Braves, said the relationship “has resulted in approximately $1.6 million in value from the Braves. It has been a rewarding relationship, which required an extensive commitment from our staff and use of the building itself. We wish them all the best with the great work they continue to do for our community.”



But the change, said Omilami, left the annual event homeless for a while.



He said they checked other venues, including the GWCC, Philips Arena and the Atlanta Civic Center, but they “all wanted to charge us money, which we aren’t used to.” In stepped the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons with a donation of $20,000, he said.



The money is being used for renting the facility for the November event and to help cover other expenses.



“It’s a great event and a great cause,” said Mark Geiger, a spokesman for the GWCC, who said the Thomas Murphy Ballroom is being used at a discounted price of about $18,000.



Still, Omilami said, there are more expenses because of the venue change. “We’re asking Atlanta and those faith contributors to help us,” he said.



And there are other challenges. For instance, Hosea Feed the Hungry said it needs donations between $4,500 and $5,000 to cover the cost of portable showers. It also needs about 1,500 turkeys, according to an email to supporters from CEO Elisabeth Omilami: “Unless the flock comes out of heaven, those birds will have to come from you …” because some turkey and food donors could not donate.



This week, Publix donated $5,000 worth of turkeys and hams to Hosea Feed the Hungry for Thanksgiving, and Publix Super Markets Charities donated $12,000 to the nonprofit’s operating fund.



Afemo Omilami said the organization also needs large cans of green beans and corn, industrial-size rolls of aluminum foil and turkey roasting pans. He also wants to get the word out about the change in venues and worries that some people may still show up at Turner Field expecting a holiday meal.



Last year, the nonprofit fed about 15,000 for Thanksgiving. This year, it expects to meet or exceed that number. Afemo Omilami said demand is up, although there are other churches and groups that have started similar programs.



Although the location for the November event is secure, it’s still not known where Hosea Feed the Hungry will hold its annual events for Christmas and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. In the email, Elisabeth Omilami told supporters they are “$20,000 short” to use the facility for Christmas and short another $20,000 to use it for the King holiday.



The nonprofit has been talking to the GWCC about those dates, but “there’s nothing in stone right now,” said Geiger.



Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless was founded in 1971 by the Rev. Hosea and Juanita T. Williams. Elisabeth Omilami is their daughter.

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