Special to the Bulletin

The 24th annual Community Thanksgiving Feast will again usher in the holiday season for area residents.

Scheduled from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Howard Payne University Mabee Center, the annual tradition has been supported through the years by numerous individuals and organizations.

“This has been a wonderful, community-wide event for 24 years, and I am already hearing from people anxious to help again this year,” said Bill Fishback, assistant vice president for business and human resources at Howard Payne. “More than 100 volunteers will help serve meals at HPU’s Mabee Center or deliver meals to those who cannot join us on campus. It is also encouraging to know the costs of the meals are covered entirely by donations from individuals and organizations in the community.”

Last year, 1.925 meals were served on campus and through the home delivery program in Brownwood and Early.

The staff of HPU’s Sodexho Food Service donates its time preparing the food. Anyone in Brownwood and Early who cannot join friends and neighbors at the Mabee Center can have meals delivered to their home by calling the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at 646-9535.

“The most difficult part of coordinating the event is finding enough jobs for all of the people who want to help, and that’s a great problem to have,” Fishback said. “Many of the volunteers have helped for years, so serving others that day is now part of their family’s annual Thanksgiving tradition. There are several people I see only once a year and that is at Thanksgiving when they come to help, so it is kind of like our own family reunion…with several hundred friends. In the 15 years I have been involved, I have watched young people who help with the meal grow up, marry and start their own families and they still come back to help.”

The meal is free and no one should feel obligated to pay.

“Because of last year’s generous donors, we had some money left over after we paid for the food and the community always comes through, so I don’t worry about paying the bills,” Fishback said.

Anyone who would like to help support the Thanksgiving meal can make checks payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast” and send them to Bill Fishback at Howard Payne University, 1000 Fisk St., Suite 210, Brownwood, TX 76801.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal will consist of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings.

“Last year, we served 620 people at the Mabee Center and we delivered 1,305 meals to our friends in the area,” Fishback said. “We always have fun visiting with each other and our guests and I want to thank those who continue to give their time and money to this wonderful event. We hope to make Thanksgiving a joy-filled day for our friends as we give thanks to the Lord for blessing us in so many ways.”

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

“Volunteers do not need to call to let us know they are coming,” Fishback said. “They simply need to show up and we will put them to work.”