On Tuesday, the Edgartown police department will turn their cruisers into Thanksgiving dinner delivery mobiles as the Edgartown Patrolman’s Association gears up for its sixth year of delivering turkeys and side dishes to Edgartown residents and families.

Edgartown police sergeants Will Bishop and Michael Snowden came up with the idea during a brainstorming session at a patrolman’s meeting in 2015.

“There’s a lot of people in the community that either need a kind gesture, a spirit pick-me-up or are in a tough financial situation and we figured this is a really great way to make sure everyone has a happy Thanksgiving,” Sergeant Bishop said.

Sgt. Will Bishop helped come up with the idea. — Jeanna Shepard

In the first year, through word of mouth, Edgartown officers delivered between 20 to 25 Thanksgiving dinners. Sergeant Bishop said the patrolman’s association has reached out over the years to Island churches, the Edgartown Council on Aging and the Edgartown School. This year they will make between 30 to 35 deliveries.

“It’s all anonymous, we don’t pry into people’s lives, we don’t ask any questions,” Sergeant Bishop said. “If somebody gives us a name and says this family could use a dinner we don’t ask why, we make sure they have a Thanksgiving meal.”

On Monday, the entire police department will pitch in to put together the dinners. The turkeys are acquired by the patrolman’s association through donations. Some of the side dishes are donated by local businesses. The dinner deliveries contain a whole frozen turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a vegetable.

“A lot of the guys are really into it and the officers love coming in to do it and donating their time because they know it’s so important for so many people,” Sergeant Bishop said.

This year the tradition is even more meaningful in light of the pandemic. Victoria Haeselbarth, outreach coordinator for the Edgartown Council on Aging, said that for many senior citizens, opportunities to interact with the public are now rare.

“Some seniors have not left their house or only have minimally since March,” Ms. Haeselbarth said. “These seniors are starved for any kind of human companionship and to have an officer showing up at their door will really inflate their day and make them feel happy and cared for.”

“We’re so fortunate to have a police department that has a tremendous amount of respect and understanding for the older adults in our community,” Ms. Haeselbarth continued.

Sergeant Bishop said that the tradition of delivery turkey dinners has a huge impact on all the officers. He recalled a moment last year when an individual shed tears after receiving the holiday dinner.

“They didn’t know how they were going to pay for Thanksgiving that year,” Sergeant Bishop said. “Moments like that you can’t even describe how important that is for that family, but it’s also important for us to have that feeling that we’re doing something and making a difference in a small way.”