ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For the past three days, volunteers have spent countless hours in and out of the kitchen to prepare for the annual Equinox Thanksgiving dinner.
Hundreds of volunteers worked late Wednesday night, and they will return early Thursday morning to get ready for the big day.
For some, it’s their first time. For others, it’s an annual tradition. But the number of years volunteering is just a number to them.
They said it’s the camaraderie they seek and the fulfillment of helping someone in need.
“When I used to go out and deliver, it really touched your heart because you really see what you’re doing the work for,” longtime volunteer Bill Serritella said.
Volunteers cut slices of turkey, bagged rolls of bread, and put cranberry sauce into containers. Up to 10,000 meals are being made, and 9,500 of them will be delivered.
“I mean, it’s grown from something that was a meal for college students to a community meal,” Serritella said.
Volunteers ranged in ages and included a familiar face in Congressman Paul Tonko. It’s his 35th year in a row helping out. He said every year it gives him a bigger reason to come back.
“The numbers and statistics are startling,” he said. “When we look at our soup kitchens and our food pantries, and you know, the families that are living at or below poverty.”
“It’s so heartwarming when you see all these volunteers coming from all over the greater Capital Region,” Equinox Dir. of Development Christina Rajotte said. “I mean, most of them come as strangers and leave as friends.”
As the dinner grew each year, so did the need for larger preparation and cooking spices making Equinox the longest running Thanksgiving community dinner in the country.
Inside every boxed meal contains a homemade card, which acts as a special reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about.