COLUMBIA — At 4 a.m. Thursday, John Fischer was already at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken on Paris Road preparing mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinner.
Fischer, owner of the restaurant, wanted to make certain at least 500 meals were ready when the doors opened at 11 a.m.
By 2 p.m., when dinner ended, the restaurant had served about 550 meals, Fischer said, including meals delivered to individual homes. That is about 50 more than last year.
A few people were waiting in cars when the restaurant opened, said Salvation Army Major John Flanagan, but there was never a line. Instead, a steady stream over the three-hour mealtime made the event manageable.
"It worked out well," he said.
Flanagan manned the door during the event and greeted people as they arrived. Occasionally, someone would walk in and hand him a pie.
Earlier in the week, the Salvation Army still was lacking desserts for the Thanksgiving dinner. But an outpouring of community support Thursday provided plenty.
There were so many home-baked goods, Flanagan joked, that everyone could have two pieces of pie.
"It's amazing," he said. "Some are still coming in warm, fresh from the oven."