GARDINER — You’ve heard of church volunteers preparing Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens.

And students serving up traditional holiday fare for community service projects.

But roofers?

A crew from Mansir’s Roofing & Siding took the day off Wednesday to feed a special early Thanksgiving meal to elderly residents at Highland Avenue Terrace.

Don Mansir, owner of the company who donated the meal, said he simply enjoys making people smile.

“These people gave so much for the community, it’s time for us to do something for them,” Mansir said. “I wish that there was more we could do with the economy the way it is.”

Mansir’s wife, Mary, was the director of Wednesday’s holiday dinner.

“I like helping people and making them happy,” said Mary Mansir as she bustled around the kitchen. She was busy slicing apple and pumpkin pies into neat little triangles and topping them off with Cool Whip.

She said the hardest part of preparing the meal was peeling 25 pounds of potatoes.

The easy part was deep-frying four, 12-pound turkeys.

Mansir, a former exalted ruler of the Elks, and his 28-year-old son, Caine, had two fryers cooking under a roof overhang by the kitchen door.

They dropped the birds in and waited for them to sizzle — 31/2 minutes per pound.

The wet weather on Wednesday didn’t sway the men from their mission.

“We thought it might (rain) for a while,” Don Mansir said. “We were going to set up a canopy to try and keep everything covered up. But we didn’t have to.”

He said they just made sure rain dripping off the roof didn’t hit the hot oil.

Ron Lachapelle, vice president of CB Mattson Inc., which owns and manages the senior residential housing, said this is the third time Mansir’s crew has served Thanksgiving dinner to the people who live in the 28-unit building.

Lachapelle said Mansir has done a lot of work for his company over the years.

“This is a terrific thing he’s doing,” Lachapelle said. “(Residents) love it and have started looking forward to it. A lot of them don’t have family, so this is essentially their Thanksgiving.”

Fay Daigle, 58, a resident, is one of those who won’t be with family on Thanksgiving Day.

Daigle said she smelled the turkey the minute she opened her apartment door to come down to the dining room.

“I think it’s very nice what they’re doing,” Daigle said. “I’ve never had fried turkey before. I’m looking forward to see what it tastes like.”

Gary Wallace, of Augusta, a foreman, got the job of carving the turkeys.

He was more than happy to volunteer his time in the kitchen.

“I know some of these people need help,” Wallace said. “I just wanted to do what I can.”

Terry Kirkham, 59, said she will be with her family on Thanksgiving Day, but thought it was nice that Mansir went to all this trouble and expense.

“I came home a couple of weeks ago and found a note in my door about the dinner with a RSVP,” Kirkham said. “I RSVP’d 10 minutes later.”

Henry Kimball, 82, sat down at a table with friends after Mansir and his crew served each resident — cafeteria style — a generous portion of turkey, green beans and corn, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Rolls, butter and coffee, along with pie slices, were already on the tables.

“They’ve done a very good job,” Kimball said. “I think it’s very nice.”

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811,

ext. 408

[email protected]