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Holiday meal served at mission

Volunteer server Kelly Pearce of Albany passes a tray of turkey, ham, vegetables and dressing to be given to a man at the Albany Rescue Mission free Thanksgiving Day lunch. The kitchen also served the same meal for dinner.

Volunteer server Kelly Pearce of Albany passes a tray of turkey, ham, vegetables and dressing to be given to a man at the Albany Rescue Mission free Thanksgiving Day lunch. The kitchen also served the same meal for dinner.

ALBANY, Ga. -- With turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, dressing, cranberry sauce, turnip and collard greens heaped high on trays, there wasn't much else anyone could ask for in a Thanksgiving meal Thursday at the Albany Rescue Mission.

"Well, we are serving sweet potato pie for dessert," said head cook Daniel White. "That should do it."

That is what filled the trays of more than 75 grateful people who had lunch at the organization's kitchen at 604 N. Monroe St.

The organization serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year.

That makes more than 7,000 meals, which are given to the members of its residential program and anyone who shows up at the kitchen door.

"This is a good place serving people who need it," said Craig Reddix. "It serves meals to the hungry and they have been doing it for 21 years. Rev. Larry is a good man of God and he serves a good meal."

Larry Hample, the organization's founder and director, said it takes a lot of work and donations to mount a relief mission that gives away all that food.

"We go out to the food bank and we have to pay them for food," Hample said. "We do get non-perishable food donations, but it never seems enough."

It wasn't just people with drug and alcohol addictions that sought a place to eat in these tough economic times, Hample added.

"This is just a typical day for us serving meals," Hample said. "We are getting more people and during the past three years we have seen a change. Because of the economy we are seeing people who have lost jobs, their homes and are having to come here to eat. There are a lot of hungry people out there."

No matter the reason they come to the mission for their meal, people haven't lost faith in what the day means.

"This really helps us out because we are people without much money," said Tammy Polston. "Sometimes there is no way to get food or shelter. I thank God for it here at the mission."

The volunteers at the mission each have their own reasons for putting in their time and effort. Kelly Pearce is typical of the volunteers serving meals on Thanksgiving.

"The Lord commands us to love each other," Pearce said. "This is just my way of showing people that I love them."

More information about the mission is available at its website albanyrescuemission.org.