TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– As we near Thanksgiving, several organizations around the area are preparing hundreds of free meals for those looking for a place to enjoy a holiday dinner. 

In Sullivan, Joe’s Italian Foods is preparing for its 17th year serving community members. They will be open from 10-1. Owner Nora Leone said she’s always wanted to do something for the holidays.

“I grew up in the restaurant business, and I always felt so bad we were closed for the major holidays,” she said. “As soon as I started my own business in Sullivan, I thought this is a great thing to do, so no one has to be at home or lonely for the holidays.”

She said preparation started on Sunday, as they started the process of cooking 45 turkeys. She said she expects to serve between 800 to 1,000 people.

She said her favorite part was working alongside volunteers to get everything ready– and watching a community grow as volunteers returned year after year.

“I like to just show up and it’s the same familiar faces each year that come and volunteer their day to spend with their family, they choose to come and spend it with us,” she said

In Terre Haute, Studio 12 is looking to expand in their second year offering a free community dinner. Owner Lucy Chew said last year, she worked with her husband to feed around 100 people in the area, but they are hoping to help 300 this time.

“This year, we’re doing 14 turkeys, and over 100 pounds of potatoes, and all the sides, and a bunch of pies we’ve got to make for that. It’s a lot, but we got a lot of people helping us,” she said. 

They will begin service around 11, and go until about 3 p.m. unless they run out of meals first. Chew said it’s a lot of hard work– but she thinks it’s necessary to give back to the 12 points neighborhood.

“We are really grateful to the 12 points community for welcoming us in. As we started this business, they’ve been a really big support to us,” she said. “We love and support this area, and we appreciate their support, so we want to give back to them.”

She said her favorite part was getting her daughter involved in the service– and she hopes she can learn a valuable lesson.

“Having our daughter involved in helping the community and seeing that is the responsibility that we all have,” she said. “That’s how we are celebrating, we are being grateful and celebrating our Thanksgiving is by using what we have to help others.”

Both restaurants said they will offer delivery services to those who are homebound. To request it from Joe’s Italian Foods, Leone said to call the restaurant Thursday. Chew said Studio 12 can be reached through their Facebook page.