Thanksgiving Tradition

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SCRANTON -- More than 3,000 turkeys and all the trimmings were handed out to families in need on Wednesday in downtown Scranton.

It's the Family to Family Program. The program has meant a lot to families and its volunteers for almost 30 years.

During parts of the day the ballroom at the Scranton Cultural Center is packed to the gills. You'll shake a lot of hands, and hear a lot of stories, but everyone's reason for being there is unique.

Debbie Kester, a single mom from Dickson City, was preparing for a very special homecoming on Thanksgiving Day and wanted to make sure there was food on the table.

“My daughter and my son-in-law are coming in from Pittsburgh. He's in the marines. We'll be really happy to see them,” said Kester.

There are the families, but also the hundred or so volunteers, many of whom make this a Thanksgiving tradition. The Family to Family Program has been at the cultural center on the day before Thanksgiving for decades. Donations provide a turkey and all the trimmings to families in need.

Family to Family started 26 years ago. Back then it fed about 600 families from a street corner downtown. Now it's a well-oiled machine that feeds more than 3,000 families in a matter of hours.

“We now have a lot more working poor who have two or three jobs, who are on the poverty level or below the poverty level who come here to get their Thanksgiving dinner,” said Mary Lou Burne, Family to Family Coordinator.

Burne said because the need is greater, there are about 100 more dinners this year than last. Those benefiting from those extra meals said this makes the holiday season easier.

“We don't really have the funding to buy this stuff, so this is really great, it's very great,” said Katrina Paul of Scranton.

“It helps me out a lot. It's really good that they have this service here for everybody. It's really nice,” said Denise Williams of Scranton.