Janet Favor had no intention of eating the individual helpings of roast turkey that she was placing into the back of a car on Thanksgiving morning. She’s a vegetarian and planned to cook an Indian dish for dinner — but on a sensory level, she still was able to appreciate the holiday classic.

“It smells so good,” she said of the turkey, which had been loaded into Styrofoam boxes along with mashed potatoes, squash, gravy, cranberry sauce and other traditional dishes. The meals were releasing steam into the cold autumn morning.

Favor, of Gardiner, was delivering Thanksgiving meals to people in Augusta as part of an annual dinner that is prepared by volunteers at Gardiner Area High School. She was making the deliveries with Kate Buehner, also of Gardiner, who recently learned of the dinner after searching for Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities on Google.

About 70 area residents attended the annual dinner, which is organized by the Augusta Valley Scottish Rite Masons. Besides hosting a meal at the school, volunteers delivered another 173 meals to people in towns from Gardiner to Augusta who have trouble leaving their homes.

They delivered many more meals last year, organizer Bruce Farrington said, but made fewer deliveries this year because another organizer who typically signed people up for the service, Joe Atkinson, died earlier this year.

The Gardiner dinner was one of several community meals held around central Maine on Thursday. Others were held at Readfield United Methodist Church and Le Club Calumet.

But it wasn’t just food and civic duty that drew area residents out on a chilly Thanksgiving morning. Some were working up an appetite for the eventual feast by walking and running in places around Kennebec County.

Sixty-three people stopped by the Kennebec Valley YMCA early in the morning for a special, hour-and-a-half-long workout. The so-called “Turkey Warm-up” consisted of a spin class on the YMCA’s stationary bicycles, as well as a “boot camp” in the gymnasium that included sprinting, push-ups, wall-sits and other exercises performed in agonizing repetition and to the soundtrack of loud pop music.

“It’s a great opportunity to get in shape before we eat our big turkey dinner,” said Peter Couture, a YMCA regular who came to the workout with his wife, Shelly Couture.

“I feel good about going home and relaxing,” said Raegan LaRochelle, a member of the YMCA board of directors who after the workout was going back to celebrate the holiday with her family, including two 9-year-old sons.

Beyond the health benefits of the Turkey Warm-up, it also raised more than $600 for scholarships, child care and other services provided by the YMCA, said Craig Cameron, the organization’s director of healthy living, who helped lead the workout.

Favor and Buehner, the Gardiner women delivering meals around Augusta, experienced a different type of workout when they had to find homes around the city. “It’s like an adventure,” Favor said, after they had delivered one meal to a home on Trueworth Avenue and were figuring out how to reach their next destination on Northern Avenue.

“Hi there,” Buehner said a few minutes later, as she approached the porch of 71-year-old Robert Vigue. “I’ve got your Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve got three dinners and three desserts.”

Vigue, who spent the early part of his holiday watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, thanked them for the delivery. After they left, he said that his nephew and his nephew’s wife would soon be coming over to eat with him.

Vigue, who uses a wheelchair, said he has been receiving Thanksgiving meal deliveries for the last couple years and appreciates the service. He also receives deliveries through the Meals on Wheels service.

“I like it very much,” he said. “It’s great for people like us that are handicapped.”

Vigue used to work as a cook, he added, “and it’s good food.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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