BOSTON (WHDH) - Volunteers at 31 locations across the Boston area dished out 18,000 Thanksgiving dinners Saturday, as charities came together to help the United Way provide holiday meals.

“Today is Thanksgiving for me, this is what we do best and make sure those coming through are going to have a Thanksgiving just like you and I are going to have,” said Beth Chambers of Catholic Charities of Boston.

Officials said the meals will feed about 70,000 people once prepared. Marchell Dubost, who picked up a turkey in Dorchester, said the meal would provide a bright spot in a tough month.

“I’m thankful we’re all still here to be able to participate in this and I’m thankful me and my children are healthier and will be able to have a happy Thanksgiving,” Dubost said.

The Dorchester site is the largest distribution site in the area, giving out 2,500 meals. Cardinal Sean O’Malley said the support from volunteers was inspiring.

“It makes Thanksgiving a more meaningful celebration, because being thankful is being willing to share, that everything is a gift,” O’Malley said. “Life is a gift, everything we have is a gift and we depend on each other.”

Bob Giannino of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley said the organization is about $120,000 short of this year’s goal, and people who want to help can donate through the United Way website. He also said he was happy at the response, but was sad it was necessary.

“It’s mixed emotions,” Giannino said. “We’re incredibly grateful that we’re in a position to be able to help so many folks who need it, and at the same time we’re heartbroken by the fact that folks here in Boston, one of the most wealthiest places in the world need to stand in line on a cold day to get the food they need to have a great Thanksgiving meal.”

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