HOUSTON — On Thursday, Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and dozens of volunteers served up more than a ton of turkey, ham, and sides to thousands of Houstonians.

The Thanksgiving Day lunch in the parking lot of Gallery Furniture’s North Houston store was a chance to enjoy food, but also experience reunions and new connections.

“I’ve known Mattress Mack for a long time,” said Bobby Evans, who was enjoying lunch and chatting with several people at his table. “He was surprised to see me. I hadn’t seen him in a long time.”

Day-to-day life can be a tough balancing act for anyone, but the past couple of years have been especially tough for Evans, who says he has been recovering from a hit-and-run crash and his home taking on four feet of water during Harvey.

“(It’s a) miracle to be living,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for.”

The volunteers serving them do, too.

“I was in the hospital for a month, and after that I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do something’,” said Vanessa Quintero.

Quintero spent time with people who are away from their families or don’t have families, while also getting to be near her dad, a Gallery employee who was working Thursday.

“My favorite part about this is we kind of just put all of our problems aside and we just get together and help each other,” said Quintero.

McIngvale says that’s one of his goals with this event, which he’s held off and on for the previous decade.

“This is what it’s all about: people helping people and forgetting about divisive politics and just welcoming each other with open arms and having a great time together,” he said.

McIngvale says he also hopes to ease loneliness on a day that’s all about togetherness and gratitude.

He plans to host another event at the store on Christmas Eve.