NORTH ROYALTON – Thanksgiving is meant to be shared, families and friends gathering around the dinner table to break bread.

But for many, what should be a happy, warm occasion can be cold and lonely. Other families are simply unable to put food on the table due to financial or even physical constraints.

For this reason, Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church opens its doors to care for fellow neighbors and share the holiday, making sure no one goes hungry for food or companionship.

It’s a longstanding tradition dating back 29 years and is quite the labor of love, as volunteers will cook more than 800 pounds of turkey breast, more than 10 whole turkeys and all the fixings.

Generally, upwards of 400 people dine in at the church with another 1,200 meals prepared for carryout as well as delivery for those who are physically unable to cook or venture out.

The church’s free annual Care and Share Thanksgiving Dinner is served between 1-4 p.m. Nov. 22 at the church at 11680 Royalton Road in North Royalton (main entrance off of Abbey Road). Carryout can be picked up there at 1 p.m. Meals are delivered between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Reservations are needed and will be accepted up to two days prior to the meal.

The menu usually includes both white and dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls, apple sauce, cranberry sauce and pie.

The meal is about caring and sharing with neighbors.

Pastor Dave Timm said Care and Share is a foundation at Royal Redeemer for two reasons.

“We live in a community that has a need for food as well as a need to spend time with those who are all alone on a holiday. It’s what community is all about,” he said. “And, the Lord calls those who know Him as Lord and savior to take time out of our schedules to serve others. It’s what a Christian community looks like.”

More than 300 volunteer to serve this meal.

Pastor John Zahrte said it’s an occasion the church looks forward to.

“We are so glad that we have this chance to reflect Jesus to them. Offering a simple meal and sharing a warm smile can be an incredible blessing to them, plus it gives us the opportunity to share the love and compassion of a God who cares.”

To make a reservation, phone the church at 440-237-7958.