The annual Morgan Mill Thanksgiving feast will take place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, in the Morgan Mill ISD gym.

For over 20 years, the school district has prepared a Thanksgiving lunch for community members and Fort Hood soldiers.

When the Thanksgiving meal first started, it was a small lunch with students and their families. Over the years, it has grown exponentially and now serves anywhere from 800 to 1,000 people including 50-75 soldiers.

“It's a pretty big tradition,” said Wendy Sanders, Morgan Mill ISD superintendent. “We combine our Thanksgiving meal into a Thanksgiving/Veterans Day program.”

This year, the school is preparing 40 turkeys and will serve dressing, gravy, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, fruit cocktail, rolls and several different kinds of desserts.

Students in seventh and eighth grade help serve the meal, send out the invitations and set up for the big feast.

“They get a list of people that we work with and partner with at Tarleton from our region 11 service center in Fort Worth and they make phone calls and invite those people, so they're getting phone skills as well,” Sanders said. “We use this as a civics lesson for the junior high kids. It's a lot of fun; they look forward to it every year.”

Sanders said she loves “the joy that it brings to everyone involved.”

“The kids get so excited when the soldiers walk in the door. The kids' faces just light up,” she said. “The soldiers honestly have no idea what they're walking into or where they're going or what to expect, and they walk into this gym full of people who stand up and applaud them. They get to go play with the kids and then next year, if they're still at Fort Hood, they'll come back and they'll say they've looked forward to it all year. It is a whole lot of extra work, but it brings joy to everybody involved.”