How many guests will you have for Thanksgiving dinner? Six? Twenty? Betty Cain is expecting to feed more than 200, including dinners sent to homebound residents and those delivered to two senior citizen residences in the community.
"I can't ever say. We just prepare for 250," said Cain on the expected turnout at Lansdowne United Methodist Church Thursday. "We can always freeze what's left over."
Cain was inspired by the annual Thanksgiving feast hosted by Arbutus United Methodist Church, where church member Darryl Groszer has organized dinners that now serve up to 300 people, for 20 years.
Volunteers at both local churches will be up to their elbows preparing turkeys and all the trimmings in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Then, each group will serve a traditional groaning board of turkey for hundreds of people.
Groszer spends weeks organizing supplies, ordering and collecting food and corralling his loyal support group to help with cooking, serving and cleanup.
"There's no way I could do this myself," he said.
But it's worth all the effort.
"We serve a lot of people who might otherwise have not had a Thanksgiving dinner, or a meal for the weekend," he said.
Cain can take such a gigantic undertaking in stride. She's used to feeding dozens during the Lansdowne church's evening meals for the community.
Volunteers staff the Lansdowne church's kitchen twice a month preparing for free evening meals, in addition to the regular church suppers and making dinner for the congregation of Christ Church of the Deaf in Arbutus one Sunday a month.
It only seemed natural to extend their hospitality to Thanksgiving.
Cain went to the church council to request permission to serve their own Thanksgiving dinner.
"Arbutus has one," Cain remembered saying. "Why can't we give one? There are people who don't have anywhere to go."
Cain herself can recall days of empty stomachs when her own children were small.
"I've been hungry," she said.
After the church council gave its blessing, Cain and her kitchen crew got to work.
Cain admits she is not a professional cook. But having been raised in the country and often having a dozen or more people to feed every day, she's learned some tricks of the trade.
"You can take a little bit of nothing and make a meal out of it," she said, lamenting the lack of cooking skills among the microwave generation.
"Don't ask us how we do it," she said. "But we do."
The food comes from a variety of sources.