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The Montana Rescue Mission served up hospitality and more than 300 dinners for Easter Sunday.

Starting at 1 p.m., diners feasted on ham, au gratin potatoes, a side salad and strawberry shortcake for desert.

Executive chef Walter Lafton said he started cooking on Tuesday with the help of student volunteers to prepare enough food to ensure everyone who wanted a meal could eat on Sunday.

“Basically my experience is, for Easter you cook for 400,” Lafton said. “We might not serve 400, but leftovers are no problem.”

Any remaining food will be served in coming meals with the ham going into soups or being worked into a number of other dishes, he said.

Bill Brasher is currently staying at the Mission’s shelter for men and enjoyed the meal with a friend’s family.

Brasher said the staff and volunteers are very attentive to the needs of the community, whether its a pair of socks or a delicious holiday meal. He appreciated the good food and work that went into the dinner.

“All in all you just have to be grateful when you’re in times of need,” he said.

About 60 volunteers helped put the Easter dinner together on Sunday. Before guests were even served in the dining room, 20 volunteer drivers delivered about 130 meals to people who weren’t able to leave their homes.

Volunteer Wendy Shores has a son in the Marine Corps currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. She spent her Easter serving food at the Mission’s dining room partly to keep herself occupied.

“It makes the house kind of empty, so this is kind of a way to go and do something for someone else,” Shores said.

Rich Lutton, volunteer coordinator, said people volunteer for all kinds of reasons and many of them cold call the Mission to volunteer before the holidays because the meals are well known in the community.

“We never have a problem finding volunteers,” Lutton said. “We always end up actually having to turn away volunteers because Billings is so good about giving.”

Easter dinner is the third largest meal the Mission serves behind Thanksgiving and Christmas, when more than twice as many volunteers are needed.

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General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.