The holidays are a time for tradition, and what has become an enduring one for Brownwood area residents continues Thursday, a quarter of a century since its inception.

“The continued success of the Community Thanksgiving Feast is a strong testimony about our community,” Bill Fishback, assistant vice president for business and human resources at Howard Payne University, said. “This will be the 26th year that volunteers and donors give their time and money to make Thanksgiving a very special holiday for their neighbors and themselves.”

The dinner – open to all who want to participate – will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Mabee University Center on the HPU campus. Residents who are alone on the holiday, or who are unable to provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal, are welcome. And others – families and neighbors, and all others – who just want to join others in giving thanks are also invited.

Last year, more than 1,900 meals were served, 600 at the center while more than 1,200 were delivered. Food is prepared by volunteers at Sodexho, HPU’s food service provider.

Several dozen people typically show up to assist in what has become a massive distribution to addresses in Brownwood and Early of Thanksgiving meals to residents unable to travel to the Mabee Center.

“Last year, more than 100 volunteers helped serve meals at Howard Payne’s Mabee University Center or deliver meals to those who could not join us on campus,” Fishback said. Requests for meals have were taken at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce office through Friday.

The meal is offered at no charge, although donations are accepted to help the tradition continue next year. Fishback said the feast has become so important to many residents, that unsolicited donations start coming in during October.