Gay Inskeep and her family have been busy this week, keeping their family thanksgiving tradition going.
For the last 16 years, the Inskeeps have spent their Thanksgivings preparing meals for strangers. All their guests are welcomed Thanksgiving afternoon at Pilgrim Church.
So how is it getting together with your family and helping other families in need?
“It's a wonderful chance for our family to be together and not to be focused on ourselves,” says Inskeep. “So, the usual drama that comes with Thanksgiving doesn't exist here. We know this is what we’re doing and it's not about you. It's about feeding these people.”
The Inskeeps make sure close to 400 people have a warm thanksgiving meal and yes the food is homemade. Well, maybe all the food. The apple pies are from Publix -- but don’t tell anyone!
“We started in 2001. My son was 3,” says Inskeep.
So, he thinks it's normal to have strangers on Thanksgiving?
“Yes and it's funny,” says Inskeep.
Gay says the family started preparing the food since Saturday but the long hours and preparation are worth it when they see people eating the food they prepared.
“That’s the only thing that keeps me going is the satisfaction of my customers, so to speak,” says Inskeep.
The first year, Gay and her husband, Paul, paid out of pocket. It cost close to $1,000. They now receive help but many times, they still dish out their own money.
How many more years of this?
“I don’t know. We sometimes think 'wow, this is so much' but tomorrow (Thanksgiving) people come and break my heart; so I’ll probably be back again next year. We take it one year at a time,” says Inskeep.
The free Thanksgiving Dinner will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday, at Fellowship Hall in Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, 6315 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. For more information, call (727) 347-1226.