SEBRING - Denny Motz vigorously mashed a big container of boiled potatoes as another one simmered on the stove.
This week, Motz and other volunteers from Faith Lutheran Church have been putting together the church's community Thanksgiving feast, which will feed more than 200 people and anyone else who wants to eat, until all the food runs out.
Monday, the prep crew got together all the containers for the meals that will be delivered, said Tisha Lockwood, who is helping to coordinate the effort.
Tuesday was the turkey and ham day. Wednesday was for the carving and the 22 pies, and today is when they will be putting the finishing touches - making the gravy - and the grand finale - "doing lots of serving," Lockwood smiled.
Faith Lutheran, 2740 Lakeview Drive, Sebring, is one of three Highlands County locations that will serve classic Thanksgiving meals today, not just for the needy but those who are by themselves and are looking for some fellowship.
Faith Lutheran will be open from noon until 2 p.m. and later if people trickle in and they have food left, Lockwood said.
The Salvation Army also will provide Thanksgiving meals, both eat-in or take-out. They will be serving from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Salvation Army Church, 120 N. Ridgewood Drive., Sebring.
Avon Park's Union Church, also called Union Congregational Church, prepares
between 1,350 to 1,400 meals, mainly for shut-ins.
Many of the volunteers help out because it's the Christian thing to do. Pat Vaillancourt does it in memory of her daughter, who passed away from cancer two years ago.
She was in the military and on Thanksgiving hosted a special dinner for everyone in the service, Vaillancourt remembered.
Bobbie Murphy lost her husband two years ago and doesn't celebrate holidays anymore.
Helping out is her way of "hanging out with friends," said Murphy, who also will be helping serve today.
Pat Patrie said the cooking team has got it down to a science, and this year, are actually ahead of schedule.
They cooked some of the turkeys at home, and used their own recipes, although she said they went easy on the spices, so people could just add what they wanted.
While Patrie has helped prepare community Thanksgiving meals before, this Turkey Day is going to be unusual for her for another reason.
Her husband does deer hunting in Wisconsin. This year he's taking an earlier flight to come to their winter home in Highlands County.
This is the first Thanksgiving in 30 years Patrie will be spending with her husband, she smiled.