By Juli McDonald

PEABODY (CBS) – It’s the calm before the storm at Gina Goodwin’s home in Peabody. First, the counting, then a whole lot of cooking – preparing Thanksgiving dinner for strangers.

“A turkey dinner comes with mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, bread, a pie, juice, I like to throw in candy and a homemade card,” she explained, giving a tour of her living room.

This incredible tradition began about seven years ago. Gina is a visiting nurse and patients asked if her family had leftovers to share.

Gina Goodwin (WBZ-TV)

“I left there thinking, ‘Oh my God I’m the only face they see. They don’t have anybody to bring them a meal.’ I came home and said to Ed, ‘we have to feed these people.’ He said ‘okay?’”

So, they started providing meals to whomever needed one. Dozens turned into hundreds, all over the North Shore. This year, there’s record need.

“My biggest number, well over 4,000,” she said. “I still have orders coming in today.”

There’s another challenge this year too. Gina’s husband is fighting cancer. But she refuses to leave anyone hungry or alone.

“These people still need meals. My problems are not their problems. My husband’s cancer is not their issue. They wait all day to answer the door to have these kids hand them a nice meal. That’s why we do it,” she said.

She knows it’s a priceless lesson for her six children.

“Everyone has gloves and a mask. Cover on, goes in a bag, gets stapled. Next bag,” Gina described, of the prep.

Saturday through Wednesday it’s full steam ahead. The warmth of Thanksgiving made possible by Gina’s family and a generous army of volunteers.

“What blows my mind at night is how many people reach out to help,” she said. “This is everybody else’s work.”

Gina offers a true variety, too. For people who want the experience of preparing their own meal but can’t afford to – she gives meal kits and a gift card for a turkey. People or families who have a way to heat prepared meals might get a frozen plate in the days before. Those without, will get hot dinners.

CLICK HERE To donate to her enormous annual undertaking.

Juli McDonald