GEESEYTOWN - Gary Deem called Thursday's free Thanksgiving Day meal at the Geeseytown Fire Hall "the lucky 13th."
Lucky for the Geeseytown Community Fire Company.
Thursday's 13th annual meal given by Gary and Marjie Deem of Deem Motors pushed the total of money raised for the fire company to more than $50,000 over the years.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Brenda Piotti and Mark Conrad, both of Altoona, pass around a plate of turkey as part of the annual family-style Thanksgiving meal at the Geeseytown Fire Hall. The event is coordinated by Marjie and Gary Deem of Deem Motors.
"Every dime I make goes to the fire hall," Deem said.
"It has been a godsend for us as well as the community," Fire Chief Denny Walls said. "We were glad we were able to help them with a facility to let them be good stewards of the community to offer this free meal they put on every year for anyone who needs it."
Deem and his group of about 54 volunteers served a record 800 people Thursday.
"Today was a busy, busy day," Deem said.
It took 58 turkeys, 18 hams, 85 pounds of stuffing, 30 No. 10 cans (about the size of a gallon jug) of corn; 24 cans each of green beans and sweet potatoes, 20 cans of applesauce, 16 cases of potatoes and 72 pumpkin pies to feed the group.
Jim Rudy of Altoona was first in line at 9 a.m. for the meal, which was served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"I come every year. I think they do a super job; the food is wonderful," Rudy said.
All of the food served came from donations from area businesses, organizations and physicians. Deem said cash donations were up this year.
"I think a lot of people feel there are people that are worse off than they are, the times are tough. We get a lot of well-to-do people as well as those who are down on their luck. We don't care what you have," Deem said. "When the people show up, the fellowship is incredible."
Deem said he enjoys providing the meals for the community.
"We just enjoy it; it is not about us. There are people who are needy and people who are well-to-do," Deem said. "I look at people from the neck up. As long as I see a smile and they say it is good, I am happy."
Duncansville native Jackie Hoffman and her husband, Ed, of Gap, Lancaster County, were among those at the fire hall.
"I like the down-home camaraderie. Everyone talks to you. The food is great. It is a neat thing to do. Everyone works together. It is amazing how they do it," Jackie Hoffman said.
Nancy Corle of Altoona came with a group of seven to enjoy the meal.
"We come to enjoy family and good food. This is our third or fourth time. I think it is great," Corle said. "It is nice for the community and for people who can't cook and can't afford to buy everything."
Joe Patterson of Hollidaysburg said he is a regular at the event.
"I am from the Hollidaysburg American Legion, and we give Gary a donation every year," Patterson said. "I am here to support the fire company and Gary. There is lots of good fellowship and good food."
Joe Frank of Altoona was a newcomer to the annual event.
"My dad comes every year, and he raves about it," Frank said. "He would have been by himself, so my uncle Vinnie and I came with him."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.