EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – One Evansville church continues a family tradition of preparing meals for the community. But this year, things are different. The Hite family of Full Gospel Mission Church carries on this holiday season without two of their own following the August 10 Weinbach Avenue explosion. It is quite the adjustment for a tradition that has spanned 16 years.

“I think the first year, maybe 55-60 meals,” says Steve Hite, JR. “Then it went to 100 and it was like, wow!”

The 100 has now turned into 250, and Hite has goals this Thanksgiving of serving 300 meals. While the joy was evident on the night before Thanksgiving, so was the sense of pain. This is the first Thanksgiving without Charles and Martina Hite, who passed away in the August home explosion in Evansville. Steve Hite, JR is the brother of Charles.

“They would sit right here and cut up potatoes, they would bag up cookies and just different stuff like that.” Hite adds, “And me, as a brother, somebody close to him, on these days like this, you kind of think, ‘Wow, man, I could have had him here with me’.”

Family members, though, say there is also a sense of peace this holiday season, including relative Holly Beswick.

“They loved this. This was part of their thing,” says Beswick. “They loved to be in giving and participating. They loved the holidays, and so when we do this, we remember.”

“He was the type of person that would always smile,” says Hite of his brother. “If you were around him, he’d want to see someone else happy. He was happy, she was happy, they cut up and laughed a lot.”

The Hite family is hopeful by growing this tradition, Charles’ and Martina’s memory will carry on. The family plans on serving meals on Thanksgiving until no food is left, continuing the Hite vision of serving all in need.

“We’re going to carry on and do what we need to do,” says Beswick, “because they’re part of this legacy.”

“What I think he would want out of this is for us to carry on,” adds Hite. “Keep it going, keep feeding anybody and everybody that wants to get a fresh meal.”