…Serving Thanksgiving to thousands

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…Serving Thanksgiving to thousands

Volunteers are preparing Thanksgiving meals at the Lamb of God Church in Estero for the ninth straight year. They have taken up the challenge of feeding 5,000 people across four counties, but the need is even greater.

Like all Thanksgivings, it starts in the kitchen and moves to preparing meals with handfuls of stuffing.

For the past week, hundreds of volunteers have been preparing to feed thousands. But this year, they are packing for much more than that.

“The past three years we have exceeded that, probably due to the economy,” said head organizer Tom Mullins.

Mullins says they have 8,500 recipients this year and that they’re set to pack 9,200 meals – complete with turkey, sides and dessert.

“People exhaust their resources we have to step up for more people and I think that’s why its grown,” he said.

Volunteers like Kelly Schoen are the ones stepping up.

“Wonderful opportunity we are able to do some for people in need,” she said.

Instead of preparing Thanksgiving for herself the night before, for three years she’s been doing it for those who otherwise may not have a meal.

“A lot of people won’t have a meal and to be able to provide that and give it bring happiness and joy,” Schoen said.

When the Lamb of God Church started the effort nine years ago, it served just 150 people.

Since then it has grown, with more than 300 volunteers feeding families in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Hendry counties.

“So fortunate we have whatever we need, not everyone has that so let’s give it to them,” said volunteer Rachel Yenter.

ESTERO, Nov 23, 2011 – By Sara Miles, NBC2 Reporter