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ATLANTA -- It's a chance for a hot meal, clothing, even a haircut or a shower. It's a day to look forward to for a group of people that don't have many of those kinds of days.

"If I wasn't here I'd probably be out somewhere cold," said Jacque Hodge, holding a baby. "Not eating a good meal like this."

Hosea Feed the Hungry fed 10,000 people Thursday. 6,000 of them were at the World Congress Center. The tradition started 44 years ago with a dozen volunteers, and has grown to include hundreds of volunteers and thousands of meals.

"It's addictive," said Ellis Clay of volunteering eight years in a row. "To see the expressions on some of the guys faces when you're doing it, and some of the children, it's a beautiful thing."

A man who wanted to be identified only as "Rico" said he couldn't believe a city would put something like this together. He came to Atlanta from Detroit, searching for a new beginning after he lost his job. He said he never thought he would wind up homeless.

"You don't realize what you have until you don't have it," Rico said. As he hit the streets after getting a meal and clothing, he said he was incredibly grateful for the help. But now it was time to find a place to spend the night.

"[You have to] enjoy it while you can," he said of the event. "Then it's back to reality, back to the streets."

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