SLIDELL, La. - The Ryals family is giving up their Thanksgiving morning, and their warmth, to make the holiday special for those who may not have what they do.
"I've been wanting to do this for a couple of years,” said Karen Ryals, “This year just felt right to do it and so I told my kids let’s get out there and do it and the colder the better it doesn't bother me."
Those people, like Nancy Jackson, are overjoyed to have the visit and a meal.
"I have a lot to be thankful for and of course there's football this afternoon," said Jackson.
The Ryals’ delivery is part of Slidell Community Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration, which started at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Slidell bright and early and freezing.
"We have a lot of churches that are involved in this, we have a lot of organizations, we have a lot of anonymous donors who want to be a part of this every year. And obviously you can see from the turnout here we have hundreds of volunteers that come out," organizer Ronnie Kastner said.
"As long as you keep moving, you keep warm," said James Kjellin.
Volunteers like Kjellin say the weather won't keep them from sharing with others on Thanksgiving.
"We all have a civic duty to do something for the community," he said.
This effort isn't just to send food out to the community. It's to have the community come in and share a meal together as well.
"On most years, we're at about a 1,000 to 1,200 that we feed,” said Kastner, “And it's not just about feeding people who are unable or don't have the means this year. This is complete community Thanksgiving. So it’s for those who are working, those who are first responders."
It's a Thanksgiving tradition 17 years strong, cold or not, and counting.
The operation at Aldersgate also made deliveries for another church in the area that had trouble with its delivery vans this year.