The 24th annual Community Thanksgiving Feast has earned its reputation as the community’s finest hour — a gift to the community, from the community.

More than 2,500 are expected to be fed at this year’s feast, but like the 23 years before, there should be plenty of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie and a host of volunteers to serve and deliver the meals.

The turkey and dressing dinner will be served from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at Howard Payne University’s Mabee Center. As is the tradition, the meal is served without charge to anyone, though donations are accepted. Throughout the history of the feast, its cost has been covered by the generosity of citizens who support it.

All of the food is prepared by the staff of HPU’s Sodexho Food Service. For today’s meal, Chef Layle Dees and her staff including Michael Paul Williams and Paulette Henderson prepared about 580 pounds of turkey and more than 100 pounds of cornbread to make the dressing. Margie Coker, who spent the early part of the week baking pumpkin pies, said they have increased the number of pie servings to 2,000, up 100 from last year.

Reservations aren’t needed or required to dine in the Mabee Center. The feast is for anyone and everyone.

“This has been a fun, community-wide project of love for many years,” said Bill Fishback, the event’s volunteer coordinator for the past 15 years.

Usually more than 100 volunteers help serve meals at HPU’s Mabee Center or deliver meals in Brownwood and Early. And, Fishback said, it’s one of the great gratifying experiences of the event that there always seems to be enough helpers and plenty of food.

Anyone wishing to support the meal by making a donation may send a check made payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast.” There will be a “pot” at the dining hall entrance to drop in the donation, or after today it can be sent to Fishback at Howard Payne University, 1000 Fisk St., Suite 210, Brownwood, TX 76801.

Volunteers who want to serve or deliver meals should arrive at the Mabee Center at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Fishback said.