This Thanksgiving will be the 35th year for the Bedford Presbyterian Church’s Thanksgiving Basket Mission.

Every year, food baskets are distributed to families who might otherwise not be able to afford the traditional holiday meal. Families in Manchester, Bedford, Goffstown, Milford and Concord, will be able to enjoy a complete turkey dinner with all the fixings.

What began as a much smaller effort has grown into a church-wide endeavor with typically 70 to 80 members and youth directly involved at some stage, and many others behind the scenes.

Longtime member Margaret Wiggin has been active since the beginning when she would drive to the delivery areas and create driving directions for each house before the days of GPS. She still coordinates the much larger group of delivery drivers.

“We will be providing baskets to 204 families this year,” said co-manager David Hunter. “What we define as a basket is actually more than a basket can hold. We use two large copier paper boxes per family, which are packed with the nonperishables on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Our youth are very involved in the packing, assisted by many adult members of the church. All 408 boxes, 204 ‘baskets’ will be packed in an assembly line set-up. Then the perishable items, such as the turkeys, eggs, bread, produce and milk, even a cooking pan, will be picked up Tuesday morning and added to the baskets prior to delivery.”

Delivery teams of typically two people pack each delivery into their cars, trucks and SUVs and will visit designated addresses for each family.

The church’s Deacons Fund pays the costs; however, many members make special contributions of food or additional funding.

Deacons Kevin Avery and David Hunter are heading up this year’s effort and logistics, with Brian Martel placing food orders.

Besides the perishables mentioned above, the food list is extensive, including stuffing, gravy, peas, corn, beans, cranberry sauce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, apples, rice, flour, bread, mac and cheese, SpaghettiOs, peanut butter, tuna and cookies. Enough food for tastes both young and old, perhaps for several days.

The deacons work with several organizations that provide the family addresses, including Child Health Services, Gossler Park School in Manchester, Bedford Food Pantry, Bedford schools, Concord Armory and others.

In addition, there is generous support from Market Basket in Bedford, and U-Haul International on South Willow Street, Manchester.