CHATSWORTH, Ga – Thanksgiving will have a special meaning this week to the hundreds of firefighters who have been battling north Georgia’s raging wildfires for weeks, as well as the people whose lives and homes they have been protecting.

A group of volunteers are raising money, food and other supplies for a Thanksgiving dinner that will be served to more than 200 firefighters on Thursday.

“This all began through the efforts of Erica Strobel, a Fannin County schoolteacher,” said Jenny Stanley, another of the effort’s organizers. “These men and women are giving up their holidays and families to protect us, and after Erica posted this idea on the Blue Ridge community Facebook page, we'd gotten enough commitments from the community to get the ball rolling.”

The dinner is being held at 6 p.m. in Chatsworth.

So what does it take to feed hundreds of hungry, homesick firefighters? Organizers are calling for 15 cooked turkeys, 15 cooked hams, and as many side dishes of mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, corn, carrots, and cranberry sauce they can get.

“We have a local baker making 400 rolls for the dinner,” Stanley said. Also needed are 30 baked pies, 10 gallons of unsweetened tea and 40 gallons of the real, Southern kind.

Not to mention as many volunteers as can fit into the Chatsworth community center to clean up afterward.

The community has set up a GoFundMe page, a campaign that made its goal of raising $1,000 for the dinner in less than 24 hours. But any additional funds that are raised will be donated to the Fannin County Fire Department.

“We really didn’t know how much to ask for,” Stanley said. “But there are people out there who want to donate either their time or supplies or money to this effort, people who maybe don’t live in the area but just want to contribute. And we’d love to blow that initial fundraising amount out of the water this week.”

Stanley also said there are volunteers who will be picking up food and supplies from people who want to donate, but can’t make the actual drive to Chatsworth.

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