Volunteers at Epiphany Parish in Brick Township prepared, delivered and served over 1,000 Thanksgiving meals Thursday in an annual event that involves hundreds of local residents pitching in to make Thanksgiving brighter for their neighbors.

For 18 years, the church has delivered meals to homebound residents in local communities. The church partners with Ocean County Meals on Wheels and delivers to homebound senior citizens in Brick, Toms River, Seaside Heights and other local communities, and this year partnered with Original Leisure Village in Lakewood to deliver meals to the community’s club house. The organizers of the event also worked with volunteer nurses at Meridian Health to deliver meals to recently-released hospital patients who are still recovering and need to remain home on Thanksgiving.

“We deliver our meals the day before, but there’s nothing like getting a nice, home-cooked dinner on Thanksgiving Day,” said Jim Sigurdson, director of Ocean County Meals on Wheels.

The church also provides meals to local shelters, including Dottie’s House, a shelter for battered women and their children in Ocean County.

Sue Hermida, the lead organizer of the annual effort – which is in its 18th year – said 965 meals were delivered by volunteer drivers, with limousines picking up some of the more than 200 guests who came at 1 p.m. Thursday for a sit-down dinner in the church’s all-purpose room.

“It should be a nice time for all,” Hermida said, before the feast got started.

The number of volunteers, from cooks, to butchers, to packers and drivers, was in the hundreds.