But this year the need is great- even greater than in years past. Charities and non-profits are doing the best they can in these tough times.
Covenant House California provided Thanksgiving meals to 500 at-risk youth Tuesday night. Last year the non-profit helped 9,000 kids statewide with food, shelter and job training.
But this year they saw a 20 percent drop in donations. But it's the nearly $1 million in federal funds they've lost that has cut them to the core.
The economy in a crisis and the unemployment rate in California in double digits has meant more people that are in need.
"I moved here from Ohio, not taking into accountability how many people there are in California opposed to the job openings," said Sonni Ali from Covenant House California.
Jackson Limousine Service handed out thousands of turkeys for its annual dinner giveaway in South Los Angeles on Tuesday. Organizers for the giveaway said they're stunned. They saw some of the longest lines in memory.
People stood in lines wrapped around several blocks to get a free turkey dinner complete with all the dinner fixings, such as cornbread, greens, yams and cranberry sauce.
"It's OK...well it took longer than I thought but I did not want to get in the disabled line because there are people worse off than I am...it's alright I'm going to be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner," said Melinda Hughes, who suffers from a muscle disorder.
Many jobless people say they would not have a Thanksgiving dinner if they could not get it free.
"I was working at my job for 10 years and lost it this year. This is the hardest time I've ever seen for me right now," said Los Angeles resident Ada Brandon.
Organizers said demand has gone up this year. They said they only had a few hundred turkeys last week, but they ended up receiving almost 10,000 to give away at the 23rd annual event.
"I thank God for all the prayers, and I thank God for the miracle he just formed," said E.J. Jackson of Jackson Limousine Service. "Walk by faith and not by sight, God is good."
At the Orange County Food Bank donations are piled up, but it's not enough to go around. 1,000 seniors and 38 different charities are on a waiting list for help. Officials say the need has more than doubled since the economic downturn.
"There are many people that are part of the hidden poor or those that you might not normally think of needing help this time of year," said Director Mark Lowry from O.C. Food Bank.