GLOVERSVILLE - The Gloversville and Johnstown Councils of Churches are preparing for the 30th annual free Thanksgiving Dinner that is held on Thanksgiving day at the Church of the Holy Spirit on South Main Street.
Volunteers from the community assemble at the church every year to put together traditional Thanksgiving meals including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, pie and cranberry sauce.
A meal is available to anyone in the region who requests a hot dinner for the holiday.
The volunteers come in Wednesday between noon and 6 p.m. to cook parts of the meals and arrive on Thanksgiving day at 10 a.m. to begin making the deliveries, said Patricia Bender, an organizer of the dinner.
Bender said she is expecting about the same number of meals to be made as last year, which set a record that totaled about 1,500. It was a significant increase considering the church served around 800 meals when it began the dinner years ago, organizers said.
"We deliver a hot Thanksgiving plate to anybody around the city that wants a meal for free," Bender said. "We limit it to plates so that people aren't using it to stock up for the week because we don't want it to go to waste and spoil."
Bender said if people want multiple servings it is best to come to the actual church dinner because there is a five plate family limit for deliveries. The sit-down and take-out dinner will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the church.
Bender said she thinks so many people use the service because the Meals on Wheels program doesn't make deliveries on the holiday. Bender estimated about 120 turkeys will be cooked for the meals this year.
"This gives people and families the opportunity to have a hot homemade meal on the holiday," Bender said.
The councils are able to provide this annual Thanksgiving feast to the community through donations from area residents and many volunteers who dedicate their time, Bender said.
"We can't possibly keep track of how many volunteers there are," Bender said. "It ends up being some people that have continued to show up for years and new faces always come to help as well. If I had to guess, I would say about 300 people [help] between the two days."
She said the volunteers include hundreds of families, couples, community leaders and teens who take time out of their busy holiday schedule to lend a hand. This year members of Key Clubs and Boy Scouts will help by making pies for the holiday meal, Bender said.
Bender said monetary donations will still be accepted and can be made payable to the Gloversville Council of Churches. The donations can be sent to 10 Bloomingdale Ave., Johnstown, NY 12095. The Council of Churches helps to coordinate donations, which can come in many forms. The money is used to buy food at wholesale prices from large food-service providers, Bender said.
If people are interested in cooking or making deliveries, they can show up at the church on Wednesday before the holiday at 1 p.m. or Thanksgiving at 10 a.m.
Reservations for deliveries or attending the dinner can be made by calling the church office at 725-3143 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org