Just as a Thanksgiving meal wouldn't be complete without turkey, Aiken's One Table event wouldn't be complete without help from the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Each year on Thanksgiving, One Table invites thousands of Aiken community members to share a meal; and, every year, officers from Public Safety volunteer to help behind the scenes.
From cooking turkeys the day before to helping direct traffic on Newberry Street, One Table volunteer coordinator Lynn Sharpe said the members of Aiken Public Safety help make the yearly event a success.
The day before the event, Public Safety officers bring their big grills and cook over 60 turkeys with the help of a few other community volunteers, Sharpe said.
"Just walk downtown on Wednesday and the smell of turkeys cooking on the grills will be mouthwatering," Sharpe said.
One Table Event Coordinator Kathryn Wade said Aiken Public Safety has volunteered to help for at least the past 10 years.
Charles Barranco, Aiken Public Safety chief, said the department always looks forward to helping out at One Table each year.
"It's about relationships and relationships that we have with other people through One Table," Barranco said. "It's our mission to be integrated with our community, and this is another way to accomplish that."
Lt. Billy Cameron, with Aiken Public Safety, is looking forward to bringing his grill to help cook turkeys for the fifth year in a row.
Volunteering for the event is his way of giving back to the community, Cameron said.
"I've seen the pictures that the Aiken Standard has put out over the years; and when you look at all those pictures, there are people from all walks of life in this city all at one place sharing a meal," Cameron said. "I think that's awesome."
Most of the volunteers meet at 6 a.m. to cook the turkeys, a task that takes 12 to 14 hours, Cameron said.
Although the process is long, Cameron said the fellowship with other cooks and the unity of the community makes it all worthwhile.
"It's always nice to hear, 'Yeah, I went to One Table and man did that turkey taste fantastic,'" Cameron said. "I made some of that turkey, and I really appreciate that."
As a thank you, Sharpe said volunteers pack meals to take to police officers, fire fighters and deputies that are on duty on Thanksgiving and unable to be with their families.
"We wouldn't have turkey if it weren't for them and a couple of other groups that come out and help," Wade said. "We're just so grateful that they've been so faithful over the years."
One Table, which is a free event, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in The Alley on Thursday, Nov. 28.