Preparing almost 2,000 meals for Thanksgiving would be a major challenge to most people, but for the volunteers associated with the annual Brownwood Feast of Thanksgiving, it’s a labor of love.

And that’s the way it’s been since the holiday tradition started 24 years ago.

“This has been a wonderful, community-wide event for 24 years,” said coordinator Bill Fishback, assistant vice president for business and human resources at Howard Payne University.

The dinner will be served to the community from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Thursday at Mabee University Center. It’s free of charge thanks to the generosity of numerous donors to continue to make it possible every year.

“More than 100 volunteers will help serve meals at HPU’s Mabee Center or deliver meals to those who cannot join us on campus,” Fishback said. “It is also encouraging to know the costs of the meals are covered entirely by donations from individuals and organizations in the community."

Anyone living in Brownwood and Early who wants a meal delivered should call the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce office at 646-9535 as soon as possible.

Last year, 1,925 meals were served — 605 on campus and 1,305 through the home delivery program.

The staff of Sodexho Food Service at HPU donates its time preparing the food.

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

An outpouring of support last year means planners haven’t had to be concerned about covering costs this year. But donations are still being accepted so the tradition can continue into its 25th year in 2008. Checks should be made payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast” and sent 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.

Volunteers who want to serve or deliver meals should arrive at the Mabee Center at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. They do not need to call in advance, Fishback said. They should just show up and find an assignment.