SAYRE - It's not unusual for families to have Thanksgiving traditions, such as a special recipe for stuffing or cranberry sauce.

But one family has a special tradition that helps others in need enjoy the annual holiday.

Each year, the Nittinger family prepares Thanksgiving meals which are then delivered by the Waverly, N.Y. and Athens Township Police benevolent associations to others, such as shut-ins, who are unable to have their own Thanksgiving meal.

And this year was no exception.

At the Sayre Elks Lodge on Thursday, the Nittinger family was cooking, preparing, and packing up meals as the members of the police benevolent associations and volunteers picked them up and delivered the dinners.

Charlie Nittinger said more than 300 people were going to be served this year. He said there were 30-40 more sign-ups from people requesting meals this year, due to the word about the program getting out sooner.

The Nittinger family's good works are also a chance for the family members to get together.

Charlie's daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Matthew Gagliardi, came all the way from Mooresville, N.C. to help out with the meals.

"We wouldn't miss it because it's an opportunity to give back to the community," she said.

She noted that her husband loves taking part in the effort.

"He got sequestered into it when we got married 11 years ago," she said with a smile.

Dave DeKay, president of the Waverly Police Benevolent Association, said "it's just a good feeling" to give back to the community.

The food is purchased by the benevolent associations, which solicit donations from the community for the meal project and for other events, said DeKay in a previous interview.

In addition, some members of the community make direct donations toward the meal project.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: