Family Feeds Hundreds at Scranton Church

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SCRANTON -- Some people spend Thanksgiving working hard in the kitchen, cooking for their family.

One family in Lackawanna County spends the day cooking for 200 strangers.

Three years ago, Deby Russell of Ashley and her family found themselves without a place to have Thanksgiving dinner. So, she had an idea based on the premise that no one should be in her predicament.

Since then, she's brought her Thanksgiving dinner to the parish room at Green Ridge Assembly of God in Scranton. Deby calls the shots, but said the planning is easy because she has so much help from her fellow church members.

"The whole church really supported us, and everybody brings things. Families with children come in and help us get cooking. Last night, they came in and set everything up for us," Russell said.

So, each Thanksgiving, they work in the kitchen, cooking about a dozen turkeys for anyone who stops in. They expect to serve 200 dinners this year.

"I was not expecting as many people the first year, and it's gotten bigger every year since," said church member Jeremy Russell.

Since the dinner started three years ago, it's doubled in size, and the families who prepare it say it's become a tradition they can't imagine living without.

The not-so-ordinary Thanksgiving tradition is already being passed down to younger generations, some as young as five, who help put everything together.

Organizers said as long as they have the dinner, they, too, will never be alone on Thanksgiving.

"You come through the door, you're rich, you're poor, you're whatever, we're happy to have you and you're part of our family," Russell said.