Like most people preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, Kathy Brown has compiled a lengthy grocery list, four pages worth of everything from turkey to condiments to scouring pads.
Brown, the director of Shepherd's Staff, a Westminster charity, will be serving turkey and trimmings to about 500. She hopes, amid the preparations, she won't be going to the food store.
Brown is looking for donors to fill her list.
Shepherd's Staff, a ministry to the needy in Carroll County, is organizing its 11th annual free Thanksgiving dinner. Brown and about 100 volunteers will cook, serve, socialize, clean up and deliver dinners to about 100 shut-ins.
So far, turkeys are the only certainty. Brown has nearly 500 pounds of the feast's main course waiting to be roasted. The community has traditionally donated all the trimmings, desserts, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and even the pots and pans.
"I have turkeys, but I need lots of other stuff," she said. "Normally, we are overrun with donations, and I am hoping this year will be the same."
Brown has been so involved in Shepherd's Staff's latest fund-raiser - a dinner theater last week - that she has had little time to prepare for her throng of guests. The staff will accept donations from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the cafeteria of St. John Catholic School in Westminster, where the dinner will be served Thursday.
"I will be there Wednesday to see what's coming in," Brown said. "Anything not donated, we will just have to purchase. I know the food stores will all be open late, but I am hoping I don't have to shop."
The charity needs flour, sugar, decaffeinated coffee, bread cubes, celery, onions, spices, eggs, milk, rolls and butter, and desserts. They also need plastic utensils, heavy-duty paper plates, and cups for hot and cold beverages.
St. John's has donated canned goods, boxes of instant mashed potatoes and the use of its kitchen. The volunteers provide the serving dishes, cooking utensils and a yeoman clean-up effort.
No diner leaves empty-handed. The charity puts together "goodie bags" filled with fruit, nuts and sweets - also all donated. Those treats accompany each meal to the homebound too.
Brown began the Thanksgiving dinner to give the area's less fortunate a place to celebrate the day with others. Originally, volunteers almost outnumbered the about 150 guests. Word has spread about the conviviality and the fare, and more than 450 diners came to the feast last year.
"We want to treat everyone as our guest," Brown said. "This dinner is to give anyone who has no place to go or no one to share the day with a place to have dinner with people who care."
Stephen Mood, executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County, will volunteer on the serving line for the third consecutive year.
"This dinner is really a gift from the community to people who don't have the resources and the benefits of family and friends," Mood said. "You see folks sharing dinner with each other and feeling like they are part of things."
He has no doubt the donations will arrive Wednesday and the meal will come together Thursday.
"I have been behind the scenes and seen how everything comes together," he said. "It is amazing."
Dinner will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday at the school cafeteria, 43 Monroe St., Westminster. Information: 410-857-5944.