DENVER (KDVR) — People experiencing homelessness in Denver came together Saturday for a community-wide event in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The event was from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Denver City Hall. It’s the first time organizers with David Clifton Ministries have hosted the event since the pandemic.

The return of the event marked its 28th year. About 1,000 people showed up.

Denver City and County officials actually reached out to the previous outreach organizer, David Clifton, encouraging his organization to hold the event again.

Volunteers from local churches and businesses were out giving food boxes and clothing items, and providing free haircuts and bike repairs. Plus, there was live music all the while.

According to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, the number of people who became homeless in metro Denver for the first time rose to almost 4,000 people in 2023.

It’s a nearly 52% increase from last year.

Pastor David Clifton, who has led the outreach for more than two decades, says it’s important for him to give back because he was once homeless.

He said he made a promise to God that if he was helped in his time of need, he would return the favor.

“There is nothing that blesses me more than when I see a need met for a human being,” he said. “Someone who needs a hot meal, a jacket, someone who needs comfort, someone who is struggling. For me to be able to help blesses me beyond measure.”

David Lyons was homeless three years ago. He comes back to volunteer at the outreach that once helped him.

“It’s better than Christmas. It’s a time to volunteer it’s a time to give and it’s a time to remember how bad it could be,” Lyons said. “Nobody should ever have to be hungry.”

In the past, organizers say the event brought out more than 2,000 people.

They say that number could double next year when the word gets out they are back hosting.

Organizers told FOX31 that they always need more volunteers and donations. If you would like to help you can do so on their website.