The line outside the Portland Club had begun to form well before 11 a.m. Thursday.

Those who waited for the doors to open chatted and enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures. Inside the banquet room, it was even warmer. The chandelier-style lights were warm. The giant silver trays filled with food were warm. Volunteers waited with warm smiles.

Within minutes, the tables filled with people who had come to share a Thanksgiving meal.

The annual event, organized by Wayside Food Programs in conjunction with businesses that volunteer services or donate food, provided a traditional turkey dinner to about 300 people. Some were unemployed. Some were homeless. Some simply had nowhere else to go.

Mary Zwolinkski, executive director of Wayside Food Programs, said one of the things she likes most about the Thanksgiving meal is seeing similar faces each year. It’s almost like a family.

One of the diners was Bud Buzzell. He’s 73 and lives at Congress Square Plaza. This was his second year coming.

Buzzell said he couldn’t be with his family on Thanksgiving but was grateful to be in a room full of strangers.

“I’m thankful for my life,” he said. “I’m thankful I could come for another meal.”

Evan Milkowski was one of the volunteers – there were almost as many volunteers as diners – and was serving Buzzell’s table. He delivered a plate of food to Buzzell, who uses a wheelchair and has a difficult time getting around.

“Let me know if there is anything else I can get you,” Milkowski told him.

Milkowski, a land surveyor who lives in Westbrook, has been volunteer at the event for years with his sister. He said he usually gets put back in the kitchen, but this year he was part of the wait staff and got a chance to interact with some of the diners.

“I like helping people, and everyone here is so happy and gracious,” he said.

Wayside has hosted a Thanksgiving community meal since 1994. The event has been held in the banquet room at the Portland Club on State Street for the last four years. The rest of the year, the organization operates several free weekly community meals and three mobile food pantries, and manages a network of community gardens.

Perry St. Louis, who lives in South Portland and works in insurance, was one of the volunteers serving food in the buffet line. He said he didn’t have anywhere else to be on Thanksgiving and didn’t have plans with his own family, so he decided to help out.

“For me, this event really fits into the spirit of gratitude and giving that this holiday is all about,” he said. Each guest got to take home a small brown paper bag of candy, in exchange for writing on a leaf-shaped piece of paper what he or she is thankful for.

Many wrote that they were thankful just to be alive and healthy and able to share a meal on Thanksgiving.

One man, who signed his named Jim, wrote: “Even though I am homeless and broke, God meets my needs every day.”