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MANSFIELD -- While most families are preparing meals for themselves, a Mansfield church is cooking for 2,000.

For the third year in a row, Bethlehem Baptist Church is leading a mission to serve meals to residents at the Butler Housing Project near downtown Fort Worth.Church members are cooking around the clock.

Each year is getting bigger and bigger and the word gets around. People come and we have to try to feed them, said Deacon Floyd Robinson.

Robinson was one of a half dozen men in charge of running three smokers and two deep fryers.They group is cooking 80 turkeys and 80 hams, any way they can before the meals are served Thursday.

The mission started in 2009with afew volunteers feeding 700 residentsby taking the meals door to door. It has become an army of church goers from several congregationsserving two-thousand.

It can be done, but the blessing is that you have people that are willingto come out on a holiday and put other people's wants and needs before their own, said J. Lee, organizer.

Lee won't take the credit for how big the project has become, but church members said he leads the way. He lines up the guys who handle the outdoor cooking, and finds the people who carve up all the trimmings in the kitchen. That's where huge buckets and pots are simmering.

They will usethree cases of cranberries, cook gallons of green beans and corn for days, just to share a holiday with strangers.

It's a blessing to do it for others that are less fortunate than we are, said Earnestine Stevenson, church member.

In three years,Lee has yet to sit down and eat with the families he helps. He is too busy making sure everyone is served.

For me, that's what it is, said Lee. Being able to serve. And that's what I like to do - to help other people.

Lee is already preparing service plans for a thousand more next year.

He says he'll need a few more volunteers and maybe a few more smokers.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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