AUBURN, Ala.- When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of family gathered around the table passing around the turkey and cranberry sauce. For some, the closest they get to a Thanksgiving meal is dreaming about it or hearing others talk about it.

The Auburn United Methodist Church made sure that those in need could make a Thanksgiving dinner a reality. Friday morning, the church held their 17th annual AUMC Food Pantry Distribution.

Dozens of volunteers from the church and community came together to help bring joy and warmth to families in need Friday morning. Cars were lined up in the parking lot, anxiously waiting for 9 a.m. Once the clock struck 9 a.m. cars made their way through the church’s drive thru service where they were greeted by a well-oiled machine to load the Thanksgiving boxes in their cars.

In total, 406 people were registered for meals. The church said the program has grown each year, and is something they look forward to each year. Reeder Dulaney, a member of the church, compared the morning to Christmas.

“It is just one of the things that Jesus wanted us to do,” Dulaney said. “He wants us to love our neighbors, and these are our neighbors in Lee County. They don’t have as much as so many others. That’s what it means to me.”

Barbara Rowell from Opelika has benefited from the program for the past five years.

“For me, it makes it easier because there’s a lot of things I can’t afford at the time of Thanksgiving,” Rowell said. “So, it is just a blessing.”

In order to receive a meal, people must be residents of Lee County and meet requirements set by the USDA. People can choose to receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. To register, applicants must bring a photo ID and a bill to show proof of address.

The church will be holding registration for their Christmas giveaway on Dec.2 and 9.