Because her refrigerator only held a small chicken, Maria Saravia was grateful Thursday that three of her kids could have a traditional meal at The Salvation Army's community Thanksgiving dinner.
The Kennewick family was among an estimated 150 people at the annual feast in Richland.
Saravia, originally from El Salvador, said she learned of the event earlier this week and decided it was the best opportunity for the family to celebrate the holiday.
"It's good," said Saravia, trying to eat a forkful while helping 2-year-old Fatima drink her juice.
Her 10-year-old son, Jose, couldn't decide what was his favorite part of the meal, saying "This and this and this and this" as he pointed with his fork to the stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes and corn.
For brother David, 9, the choice wasn't so difficult. He smiled while pointing to the empty section that had held potatoes on his otherwise full plate.
Major Julio Vasquez said about 90 people stopped by The Salvation Army's 1219 Thayer Drive location in the first 60 minutes of the two-hour dinner. They also delivered some meals to the Desert Villa retirement apartments in Kennewick.
"The atmosphere is so family-oriented. This is what we really like to do, and we're able to do all of this because of the generosity of the community," Vasquez told the Herald. "The community comes together to help us provide a traditional, hot meal for friends in the community."
Diners were well fed with nearly 50 pies, 400 rolls "and lots and lots of vegetables, and mashed potatoes," Vasquez said. One woman donated six pies Wednesday, telling Vasquez she couldn't be there Thursday but wanted people to enjoy them.
Granny's Buffet also cooked up 20 turkeys because The Salvation Army has a small kitchen, he added.
Vasquez said there were a lot of faces at the Thanksgiving dinner he has not seen before. He attributed that to publicity about the event, and noted that he even got a call from someone Thursday morning asking if The Salvation Army really was offering a free meal to people.
"At the end of the day it's all worth it," he said.
At least 22 people showed up Wednesday to help move tables and chairs, and Thursday saw an additional 25 volunteers for decorating, cooking and cleaning up.
Hope Bailey of Richland said she's tried to volunteer herself in previous years but was turned away because they had enough help. She was happy to lend a hand this year, saying she does it "just to help anyone I could."
"There are a lot of people who are much less fortunate than I am," Bailey said. "I feel like I should. That's what the Lord would like me to do."
Shannon Deines said she wanted to do something with her mother and 11-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving.
"We have enough. ... We really just wanted to do something for somebody else," the West Richland woman said as she sliced a pie. "It's been wonderful. (The diners) are very happy and thankful. They're just like the rest of us."
The Salvation Army feast was the first of two Thursday for Luis Acevedo.
The 19-year-old Pasco man said his mother goes to that church, so she took her husband, two sons and daughter to the dinner before heading up to Moses Lake to visiting with family.
Acevedo admitted he didn't want to go at first, but said it's a good idea to have this community meal.
"There are people that can't actually celebrate Thanksgiving ... so they can come here," he said.