ROCKFORD — The doors at 1125 Fifth Ave. were wide open Thursday afternoon and dozens walked through for Thanksgiving dinner, some extra winter clothes for the cold days ahead and a warm welcome.

The single-story dwelling in Rockford’s Midtown District is the former site of a Buddhist Temple but is now simply known as “Miss Carly’s.”

Carly Rice has overcome some long odds, including years of drug addiction, prostitution, and homelessness.

Today, she is back on her feet and dedicating her life to helping others who struggle with similar issues.

On Thanksgiving, Rice opened her home to anyone in need.

“We’re doing meals, and we’re giving everyone who leaves here a to-go meal as well,” Rice said. “It’s important to us to feed people and engage and commune and break bread, so to speak. But, we also want to make sure they have something to eat later.”

Rice expected as many as 150 guests to stop by for turkey and all of the trimmings donated by Food 4 Fuel in Loves Park and Orangetheory Fitness of Rockford.

Goody bags for kids and adults, winter coats, gloves, socks, and games for children also were distributed.

“You want to talk about feeling alone and being marginalized and alienated,” Rice said. “ Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s hard to be homeless on those days.”

Vickie Fox, of Rockford, knows the feeling.

Fox recently settled at a homeless camp near Kishwaukee Street after her house was condemned. She spent Thanksgiving afternoon at Rice's home handing out food and clothing.

“It makes me feel loved,” Fox said. “I love people. I love talking to people. If people need someone to talk to, I’m there.”

“I know most of these people that have been here,” said 29-year-old Shane Holub. Holub, who is homeless, helped serve food to others on Thursday.

“We all know each other. We all live on the street together," he said. "It feels good to be able to help people I call friends.”

Rice wants it to be known that her home is a resource for those in need throughout the year, not just on special occasions.

“A big part of what we’re doing is just raising awareness about there being food available here. We also do Narcan training through Swedish American Hospital and the Rockford Fire Department,” Rice said. “So, we’re training people how to save lives out in the community. We do CPR training, as well.”

First and foremost, Rice said, her home provides comfort and support to those in need.

‘What we try to do is be an extension of family so we can build them up and give them unconditional love so that they can make better decisions for themselves and feel like they’re worth it again,” she said. “Because it’s easy to feel like you’re not when you’re out there for so long.”

Ken DeCoster: 815-987-1391; kdecoster@rrstar.com @DeCosterKen