SCRANTON, Pa. -- Employees from a hospice care unit in Lackawanna County spent this Thanksgiving serving meals to patients and their families.
After 12 years, the assembly line of packaging up the meals runs smoothly, volunteers call it a well-oiled machine.
Even though it is an annual tradition, some volunteers are new this year.
"I never volunteered before. I was off today, and me and my husband decided to come down here to help out," said Nicole Cruise of Scranton, an inpatient nurse at Sacred Heart.
Mansour's Market in Scranton prepares the Thanksgiving meals every year, and employees from Hospice of the Sacred Heart and other volunteers show up to deliver the packages.
"In the spirit of the Hospice of the Sacred Heart, in the spirit of giving, we are giving to our community. We want to be known as the hospice that serves the community, said Hospice of the Sacred Heart President of the Board, Dr. Frank Bucci.
Volunteers will deliver between 600 and 700 meals all before noon on Thanksgiving day.
"Taking care of someone at home, being at home is a little stressful. We wanted to remove that stress so they wouldn't have to worry about cooking and preparing TG dinner, so we get to bring it to them. Our families love our staff coming in. Our staff gets such a great sense of fulfillment they get to see their patients during the week," said CEO Diane Baldi.
Delivering the meals has become a tradition for the Sacred Heart staff, even when it is their day off from work.
"You not only have family members. These people have become our family. We are together almost every day. We get together outside of work. It's really important to come together now and help out," Cruise said.
"Then they get to start the tradition. I'm so thrilled to see staff who have been here 15 years and then to see new staff just to take part and become part of the extended family as well," Baldi said.
Volunteers spent about two hours delivering the meals, then spent the second half of the day with their families.