House of Hope homeless shelter gave Jimmy Gunn a place to stay when he fell on hard times several years ago.

That’s one reason why he attended the Eat, Drink & Be Thankful Community Breakfast held at the shelter on Thanksgiving morning.

“We just came to show our support,” Gunn, 59, said while sharing a piece of pie with Vincent Ferrell, 54.

They each stayed at the Danville shelter at different times in the past when winter came and interrupted their seasonal landscaping jobs.

“I just heard about it,” Ferrell said when asked why he attended the breakfast. “I came to see what’s going on, to see how everything’s changed.”

Kacey Cunningham, owner of J. Kathleen Catering Co. in Danville, organized the community breakfast through her business.

“This is just my way of giving back,” Cunningham said at the event. She estimated that about 60 people attended the breakfast that was held for homeless people and other members of the community who wanted to attend.

Cunningham, 32, organized a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and the rest of the community last year at her church, First Baptist Missionary Church on Washington Street.

But this year, she wanted to do something different.

“We have so many Thanksgiving dinners [and lunches] in the community,” she said. So she decided to hold a breakfast.

However, she didn’t want to make homeless people come to her event.

“I could just go directly to them,” Cunningham said.

House of Hope Executive Director David Hudson said the free breakfast was a perfect fit for the shelter.

“It sounded like a great event,” Hudson said. “It met our morals — providing for the community.”

He said he plans to hold more community events to increase awareness of House of Hope.

Started in 2009, House of Hope currently has 13 residents and capacity for 16. The faith-based shelter provides temporary housing for about 125 people per year, Hudson said. It gets about 80% of its donations from churches and individuals, and the remaining 20% from local foundations.

Cunningham said she wanted to provide a sense of community for homeless people in Danville.

“You tend to feel down when you’re homeless,” she said. “I want them to feel like they are still part of the community and they still have the support that they would need around the holiday time.”

Several Danville organizations donated to the event, including Women United Inc., The Fashion Haus, ETE Productions and A Ray of Hope, Cunningham said.

She wants to hold more events at the shelter in the future, including a possible Christmas meal.

As for Ferrell, he’ll always remember what the shelter did for him.

“It helped me get myself back on my feet,” Ferrell said.

Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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