GLOVERSVILLE - "The poor will be with you always," Mike O'Leary repeated Thursday.
"Jesus said it, so basically, he tells us to take care of [the poor], and this is one way that we do," he said.
O'Leary was one of dozens of volunteers who helped organize, serve and deliver Thanksgiving turkey dinners for those in need Thursday.
Volunteers met at the Church of the Holy Spirit on Wednesday around noon to start preparing food, and they didn't leave until 7:30 p.m. On Thursday, they filed into the church at 5:30 a.m. to set up the meals so everything would be ready at 9 a.m.
"This isn't a personal thing. We see the need and we take care to meet the need," O'Leary said.
On Thanksgiving Day, foam dishes of turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, corn, cranberry sauce and pies lined tables at the church's parish hall waiting to be taken out for delivery. Volunteers dutifully dished out all of the meals with smiles on their faces.
"The main reason I do this is because I see the need," volunteer Kevin Lake said. "Gloversville has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, if not the highest, and there are people that are worse off than me, and I see that. I try to do some things that need to be done in this community."
More than 100 turkeys were used to make the 1,600 meals that were made Thursday.
"Last year, we did about 1,400 meals; this year, we're doing more. There's more of a need this year," O'Leary said.
Amy and David Lawton said this was their second year volunteering, and they plan to continue in future years.
"We've had help in the past, so we need to give back, and we've taught our children to do the same," Amy said. "We're hoping to make this a family tradition. We really want to instill good values in our children and help our community at the same time."
David Lawton pointed to a cross in the church with Jesus on it. "I do it for that man right there," he said.
The event was coordinated by the Council of Churches in Gloversville and Johnstown. The council coordinated donations. Money was used to buy the food at wholesale prices from large food retailers.
Boy and Girl Scout troops baked 130 of the pies and donated 27 turkeys. Children, teens, adults and seniors collaborated to create turkey dinners.
"We've been here the last four or five years," said volunteer Mary Frollo, who helped at the event with her daughter Emily Frollo. "We love it; it's a nice way to start Thanksgiving."
Casey Croucher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.