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Rescue Mission serving all year

Boarding home resident Elizabeth Wragge enjoys her Thanksgiving Day meal at the Albany Rescue Mission as others wait in line to take part in the holiday meal Thursday.

Boarding home resident Elizabeth Wragge enjoys her Thanksgiving Day meal at the Albany Rescue Mission as others wait in line to take part in the holiday meal Thursday.

ALBANY — A full plate of turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, dressing and a slice of pumpkin pie is great at Thanksgiving — but what about the rest of the year?

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Volunteers dish up the Thanksgiving Day meal at the Albany Rescue Mission at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Charlie Stephens waits just before 12:30 p.m. Thursday for the signal so he can let the first people in line, as is customary women and children first, into the Albany Rescue Mission kitchen for a free Thanksgiving Day meal.

It seems like a lot of organizations put on dinners, give away food and take care of the less fortunate at the holidays. But Larry Hample and the Albany Rescue Mission serve food three times a day 365 days a year to the downtrodden.

“It seems like everyone feeds people this time of year,” Hample said. “We do it all year and it is becoming more and more difficult as we see the number of people we help double through the year.”

Hample said the Albany Rescue Mission at 604 N. Monroe St. needs non-perishable food and financial assistance to help those in need. He encourages anyone who can to contribute.

In a classic case of those who have been helped helping others, a white van from a mental health organization pulled up at the mission just before the Thanksgiving meal was served. In the back of the van’s passengers sat a big box of holiday food.

“We always bring anything we have left over from our meal to the mission,” said AmericanWork Inc. van driver Damion Gordon. “Our people eat good and there is usually leftovers.”

Prepared plates waiting for the people who came to the mission hardly looked like leftovers. Any family-style restaurant would have been proud to serve those plates.

Not everyone who took a plate from the mission kitchen was in trouble because of alcohol or drug problems, Hample said. The tough economy has put many in need, he added.

“I’m not homeless. But I’m half-way there,” said Emil Jenkins. “I’m here to eat every other day I’d say. It’s great what they do for the homeless. But it seems everyone does it at the holidays. People need it all year.”