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Volunteers prep for 25th Annual Turkeyfest

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Posted at 10:22 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 23:22:18-05

More than 1,200 Thanksgiving meals are ready to be distributed to those in need on Thursday thanks to dozens of volunteers. 

Several organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Telephone Pioneers met at the Salvation Kroc Center in South Omaha Wednesday afternoon to prepare meals for the Salvation Army's 25th Annual TurkeyFest, a city-wide feeding effort to help provide Thanksgiving meals for the elderly who may not have Thanksgiving meals or plans. 

”For 25 years, we’ve been serving Thanksgiving meals to older adults who are alone, lonely, disabled," says D.D. Laundervill, coordinator for the TurkeyFest. "We know cooking a 20 pound turkey for one person can be a lot of work, especially if they have arthritis or have trouble standing," 

Kevin Newlin, the head chef volunteer says thanks to food donations, they're able to prepare delicious traditional Thanksgiving meals.

”We do all fresh food, turkeys were brought in and brined, and then roasted over several hours and we’ll make homemade dressing – they'll have mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing. It’s just awesome to see the dedication to the cause," says Newlin. 

For Newlin, preparing the stuffing or cutting up the turkey is much more than a volunteer opportunity. 

"Seeing people’s faces when you give them a meal at their door, when they know they’re not going to go out or maybe not have any visitors or have a turkey dinner – it’s just priceless," says Newlin.

For others, helping prep for TurkeyFesthas become a tradition. 

"We've been doing this for 16 years. My daughter's been helping me for pretty much the whole time and now that she's married, my son-in-law is helping too," says Debbie Grady.

Among those returning to help, are the Boy Scouts of Troop 558. 

”We started doing this several years ago as a tradition on Thanksgiving so we could give back to the community a little bit and we’ve just continued that tradition," says Shawn Ovenden. 

Volunteers will reheat the packaged meals Thursday morning before nearly 134 driving teams deliver the packaged meals to homes throughout Omaha.