GLOVERSVILLE - The Church of the Holy Spirit is preparing for the 15th annual free Christmas dinner delivery.
The event is organized on Christmas at the church on South Main Street.
The outreach program was initiated in 1998 by volunteers from the Catholic Community of Sacred Heart of Gloversville. In 2008, Sacred Heart and St. Mary of Mount Carmel merged to form the Church of the Holy Spirit and continues the Christmas dinner yearly.
Volunteers from the community assemble at the church every year to put together traditional Christmas meals, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables and pie. The church also gives out free gift bags filled with essentials families may need, including hotel soaps and shampoo.
A delivered meal will be available to anyone in the region who requests a hot dinner for the holiday.
"The Christmas dinner was initiated because we didn't want to see anyone in the community be alone or not have a hot meal on Christmas day," organizer Don Fleischut said.
Fleischut said he is expecting about the same number of meals to be made as last year, which totaled about 900.
The church served 234 meals when it began the dinner in 1998, organizers said.
Fleischut said he thinks a lot of people use the service because the Meals on Wheels program doesn't make deliveries on the holiday.
On Christmas morning, volunteers will come together to prepare, package and deliver more than 900 hot meals throughout the community.
"There is no prerequisite for getting one of these meals," Fleischut said. "Anyone who asks can get a meal delivered to their home on Christmas morning."
The church is able to deliver these annual Christmas dinners for free to the community through donations from area residents and the many volunteers who dedicate their time, Fleischut said.
He said the volunteers include about a hundred people ranging from families, couples, community leaders and teens who take the time out of their busy holiday schedule to lend a hand. He said many of these volunteers will be showing up as early as 5 a.m.
"These families that dedicate their time just want to spread the holiday spirit and make others happy," he said. "We are able to do this every year because of the generosity of the community."
Fleischut said the kitchen will be staffed with another 50 volunteers cutting fresh-baked pies, slicing turkey, preparing gravy, scooping vegetables and stuffing, and finally packaging the hot meals for delivery.
The meals are free to anyone who wants one, but there is a four-meal maximum per location.
Reservations for a meal can be made until Christmas morning by calling 725-1226.
Volunteers in the kitchen are needed at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning at the Community Center of the church at 161 S. Main St.
Delivery volunteers should arrive at 9 a.m. at the same address.
Those requesting more information on volunteering, making a donation or donating a turkey or pie can call Don Fleischut at 725-5474.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.