NORTH ADAMS — A line of volunteers builds at the All Saints Berkshires Episcopal Church parish hall, packing away meals that they will deliver to local seniors.

For Shannon Daugherty and her family, this is Thanksgiving.

And it has been that way for more than 30 years.

Daugherty and her children have carried on the tradition of preparing dozens of Thanksgiving meals at All Saints that are delivered to local seniors in the Northern Berkshires who are spending the holiday alone.

It's a charitable event that was co-started 35 years ago by Daugherty's mother, Diane Bleau.

"My children were young when they started, and now their children are involved. My children and their children — this is their Thanksgiving," Bleau said.

Daugherty has been in the kitchen preparing meals for seniors every year since she was 6 years old.

"It's about giving back," Daugherty said. "This is just what we do. It's a little bit to give back to people who might not have family around, and we look forward to it."

For Daugherty's children, this is the only kind of Thanksgiving they've ever known.

"Our kids don't know any different. I mean, they were here in [BabyBjorns]and now they're on the line serving," Daugherty said.

This year, the hard work of dozens of volunteers resulted in more than 180 meals being delivered to local seniors in Adams, Cheshire, North Adams and Williamstown. That's about 50 more than last year, according to Daugherty.

"It's so cold today, and I think people knew that," said Daugherty, noting that some people wouldn't want to venture through the cold to visit family.

But preparations for the big day begin in October.

Bleau orders the food, then contacts the media and local agencies to spread the word that volunteers will begin taking names of seniors in need Nov. 1.

The bulk of funding for the annual effort comes via the Northern Berkshire United Way, but organizers rely on help from others as well. The pies are donated by local restaurants, Williams College contributes dinner rolls, and Chenail's Farm in Williamstown chips in with vegetables.

As the names of recipients roll in, Bleau works on the more than 30 routes for the drivers who will deliver meals.

"I make out the routes for people and I try not to give them any more than five names — you want them to be able to visit a little bit, but not too long, because you don't want the meals to get cold," Bleau said.

A team of volunteers prepares food on Thanksgiving eve at the parish hall's kitchen.

On Thanksgiving morning, if all goes well, the food is cooked and the meals are packaged. On Thursday, the crew arrived at 5:30 a.m. but got off to a late start after the stove's pilot lights blew out.

"We actually didn't get food in the oven until 7 a.m., so we were a little nervous, but everything got prepped last night," Daugherty said. "We've been doing it so long that it's a pretty well-oiled machine."

Shortly before 11 a.m., volunteers line up inside the hall to pick up their delivery list and the packaged meals.

"We have people that have been doing it from day one and they come back every year. Then we have some new people," Bleau said.

For Charlie and Judy Blaisdell, delivering meals on Thanksgiving has been a tradition since 2000, when they found themselves as empty nesters after their daughter got married and their son joined the Army.

"We were all alone that year, so we decided to start," Charlie Blaisdell said. "The kids are gone now and have been gone ever since then, so we just keep doing it year after year."

People receiving the meals are always appreciative, he added.

"We're lucky enough to be independent, and I think it's important to give back to the community," Judy Blaisdell said.

Likewise, Sue Walker and Steve Green's kids aren't in town.

"For us, it's part of the celebration," Walker said.

Ani and Bill Grosser made the drive from Lenox to deliver meals for the second consecutive year.

"We want to have a personal connection when we give," Ani Grosser said.

"We see their eyes, and they're happy to see us," Bill Grosser added.

Adam Shanks can be reached at, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.