FARMINGTON — There are 13 people who live under Shirley Redhouse's roof in Fruitland.

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner for Redhouse and her daughters, in-laws and grandchildren is a tough and expensive task.

"There's too many people in the home," Redhouse said while eating with her family at the community Thanksgiving dinner offered at the Farmington Civic Center. "I'm thankful for the generosity."

Offering a free dinner of turkey, stuffing, green beans, potatoes and pie has become Farmington's most-attended Thanksgiving tradition.

Close to 1,000 people were at the event on Thanksgiving to receive a free meal or volunteer.

"This area gives more than any area we have ever served in," said Brian Anderson, a major in the Salvation Army who helped organize the event with his wife, Cindy.

A lone, anonymous donor was a big help to this year's dinner. Several days ago "he just pulled up (to the Salvation Army) in his pickup with 150 turkeys in the back of his truck. He didn't want a receipt or any recognition," Anderson said.

Volunteering at the event has become as popular as the turkey.

High school sports teams worked together to prepare the feast in the days before Thanksgiving and dozens of families arrived in droves on Thursday to help serve.

There were nearly 300 volunteers at the community dinner and 600 people ate a meal.

Dinah Largo, of Bloomfield, started volunteering at the event 13 years ago. Her husband has died the month before Thanksgiving in a automobile crash near Ouray, Colo.


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and she started volunteering to heal, she said.

The number of volunteers at the event increases every year, she said.

"People want to help. And to be there for someone to say hi, have a good day'," she said. "We're not going to meet their needs but at least we're doing something to make them hopeful."

There were more than a 100 children at the event, some worked as volunteers and others were served a meal.

"It's very emotional to me when I see little kids who need help," Largo said.

Leona Sam, of Farmington, took her two-daughters, niece and her daughter's boyfriend, to the event to volunteer for the first time.

Sam said she was inspired by her aunt, who has long volunteered at the event with her family.

Sam and her family arrived at the Civic Center before 9 a.m. and Sam's seven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old niece folded napkins and prepared plates until they were exhausted.

"They were constantly going and going and going. It made my day to see that," she said.

While some people attended the event to volunteer or save money, others came and ate for the company.

Ron Lashley, who lives in Flora Vista, moved to the area five years ago and has no family. The president of a photography club, Lashley lives in the area to photograph the landscape.

He was considering Burger King for Thanksgiving Dinner until a friend told him about the community event.

"It's wonderful," he said. "It was really nice to come down here and be around some people."