WARREN - More than 1,500 people were able to enjoy an early Easter dinner on Saturday, thanks to volunteers and supporters of the Warren Family Mission.
Director of Development Lisa Dudley said although the free community dinner was scheduled to conclude at 4 p.m., people still were coming in.
"They've been so grateful. It's really been wonderful," she said.
Although the mission provides the Easter dinner every year, this year was bigger than ever, and included ribs in addition to the more traditional ham dinner.
Cheryl Parsons, director of public relations, said the mission cooked 1,000 pounds of ham and 1,500 pounds of ribs - so much food that they had to start cooking days in advance.
"Today they got ribs, they got ham, they're getting cole slaw, corn bread, potato salad and green beans," she said.
But it wouldn't be possible without the support of the volunteers, which this year numbered around 100, she said.
Parsons said the Second Harvest Food Bank helped get the food at a cheaper price; Hanna's House prepped all of the tomatoes, cucumbers and potato salad; while the barbecue sauce was donated by Charlie Staples.
The total cost per plate was around $4, she said.
There were also Easter baskets made up for the children, and those who couldn't come to the mission in person had their meals delivered. Parsons said each year brings in more and more people. On Saturday there were 500 meals in deliveries alone.
"I think that a lot of it is the minimum wage ... families can't afford to do all the other stuff," such as holidays, she said. "Easter baskets, that's something extra for the family to have to provide, and they're getting a full meal today.
And the mission is feeding more than just residents of Warren. Parsons said they get people from all over the county, including Girard, Newton Falls and other communities.
"We don't turn anyone away for a meal," she said.
Michele Currie, 32, of Warren, said she attends the Easter dinner every year.
"It's a great place. They're a pillar of the community. For people that don't have stuff, you can come here," she said.
But Currie said it's not about the food, it's about the celebration.
Seven-year-old Isabella Dougher was helping to hand out Easter baskets to children after they finished eating.
"I like helping people," she said.
Judy Ervianto, 44, and her son, Seth Adams, 15, of Warren, were able to share a hot meal together.
"We're very thankful for them doing this, so everybody can have a meal. Nobody can go hungry and they're all blessed. I thank God every day when I wake up and see another day," Ervianto said.
"God bless everybody," Adams said.