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Mozel Sanders volunteers spend Thanksgiving preparing, sharing hot meals

This year marks the 51st year of serving central Indiana families on Thanksgiving Day.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Mozel Sanders Foundation continued a 50-year tradition Thursday, providing free Thanksgiving meals to thousands of Hoosiers. 

Although some things have changed over time, the mission has not.

There was stuffing, green beans, chicken and more on the menu.

"No matter what's going on in the world, there are homeless, there's food insecurity and we are going to be there," said Mozel Sanders Foundation CEO Stephanie Sanders. 

The event draws volunteers from all corners of Indianapolis, like Mike O'Banyel. He's been volunteering with the foundation since the late 1970s. He said it's become a cherished family tradition because they feel connected to the mission.

"It's the idea of not looking down on a man unless you're helping him up. I know there are so many people in the city who probably wouldn't have a Thanksgiving dinner if it wasn't for the Mozel Sanders Foundation." said O'Banyel. 

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also volunteered to give a helping hand. Last year, volunteers served their one-millionth meal despite hardships due to the pandemic. Both leaders believe this event is a true example of Hoosiers taking care of one another.

"it is indeed an acknowledgment and recognition about how Indianapolis cares for its residents," said Hogsett.

"This is a real reminder for me on Thanksgiving about just how far charitable hearts and minds can go. They can transform lives," Holcomb said.

O' Banyel said whether you're doing the serving or the eating, he hopes people will remember that it's more than about the food.  

"I hope people can build relationships over a meal because that's what it's about," said O'Banyel.

And there's no better time to do it. 


More than 700 volunteers will work at 20 different satellite locations across the city. Organizers expect to distribute 11,000 meals to neighbors in need on Thanksgiving.

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