They will have a holiday meal, but they will eat it alone.
The Montana Rescue Mission prepared a total of 800 meals this Thanksgiving for those who couldn't make their own, Mission Spokeswoman Denise Smith said. Sixty turkeys were prepared by chefs and cooks, and sides were made by staffers of the Mission who made green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.
Forty or fifty pies were dropped off as donations.
At 1 p.m., families and friends gathered together at the Mission to chow down and enjoy the white tablecloths and multicolored napkins, which were part of the Mission's effort to spruce up the charitable celebration, Smith said.
For some in Billings though, the holiday will be a solitary occasion.
Mark Thomas and his two children 26-year-old Austin and Taylor, 23, along with Taylor's boyfriend Joe Frontier, 22, volunteered Thursday to bring meals from the Mission to nine different homes in Billings. They only needed 12 Styrofoam boxes filled with the Thanksgiving stables of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce to complete their task.
"We make the most of the couple of seconds we have with them," Taylor said.
About 300 meals were delivered throughout Billings by Mission volunteers on Thanksgiving. The Thomas family delivers meals every year at either Christmas or Thanksgiving and much of the time, they are delivering to those without anyone to spend the holiday with.
Taylor, her eyes tearing from the cold November wind, said most people just want to talk small talk.
"She wanted to know about your schooling," Mark said, recalling a woman who invited the family into her home one year. "Sometimes when you serve someone, it can be an awkward moment, but there is something about this day —"
"Peoples' guards come down," Taylor finished.
The four traveled through the neighborhood of Lockwood, every delivery varying in how long the family spoke to the people inside. Each door held a different story.
"He was an older guy," Taylor said, as she finished a delivery. "He had an oxygen tank. He said he never thought he'd need a meal delivered."
"Jim," Austin said, reciting a name off a list provided by the Mission for their deliveries. "Jim, he got pretty emotional."
At the next house a woman insisted on giving the group a donation, even though they told her she didn't need to.
She poked her head out her door as they shut her gate, thanking them again. She called out something and the muffled words "stuffing" and "gravy" could be heard. Taylor turned and waved.
At each house, the volunteers make a point to call the people receiving the meals by their first name.
Austin said he is glad his mother schedules this for the family, though she couldn't participate this year as she was fixing dinner. Quoting the book "The Greatest Salesman" Austin said before he goes up to each house he reminds himself that in his heart he loves the person who is about to open the door and he doesn't "know your circumstances, but we're in this together."
"It's a celebration for this community," Smith said. "There is an outpouring of volunteers and all this food's been donated. It's something special."