ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many of us are already shopping and preparing for Thanksgiving, and the nonprofit community organization Equinox is doing the same, but for thousands of people.

Prior to the pandemic, preparing an Equinox Thanksgiving meal required an army of dedicated volunteers working shoulder to shoulder. But during the pandemic, Thanksgiving 2020 meant social distancing. No more lines of volunteers working together in their massive kitchens.

So, the non profit community organization teamed up with area restaurants to safely cook the meals, and it worked out great. With a surge of COVID cases this season, they’re teaming up again, says Christina Rajotte Director of Development and Marketing for Equinox.

“So, we are really excited to do that and work with about 10 restaurants and catering partners to help us prepare those meals safely.”

Just like last year, they will collectively cook more than 10,000 turkey dinners with all the fixings. Iron Gate Cafe in Albany is one of the participating restaurants. Sam LeClaire runs the front of the house.

“They donated the turkeys, and they we are cooking them upstairs in our own ovens, and it’s all hands on deck,” she says.

The meals will be donated Monday through Wednesday. They come with directions for heating the meals up on Thanksgiving Day. Or any other day, says Rajotte.

“What’s nice is that people can choose to eat it before Thanksgiving if they want. Wait for Thanksgiving Day. It’s really their choice.”

She says her organization has plenty of loyal volunteers to deliver the thousands of meals, but they are still accepting orders up until Friday for anyone who would like to request a dinner.

The number is 518-434-0131.

“But, of course, we know there’s a few emergency situations that may arise. So, they can call after if something comes up, and we will make sure that we get a meal to them,” Rajotte added.

To sponsor a meal or help Equinox with their yearlong programs supporting youths, adults and families: Equinox-Chemical Dependency Counseling, Domestic Violence, Mental Health, and Youth Services – Albany, New York (