Make your home page

There’s a rich history behind the Mozel Sanders Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We’re just a couple weeks away from the huge, annual Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Day meal giveaway.

It includes thousands of meals and volunteers. But there’s a rich history behind the foundation that blossomed from one man’s desire to feed people in need.

This will be the 49th year the Mozel Sanders Foundation has served Indianapolis during Thanksgiving.

In the early 1970s, the Rev. Dr. Mozel Sanders not only served the needs of his congregation, but of people in need. He was known as an excellent cook. It was in his spirit to feed people.

“He just started out ‘Hey you’re hungry? C’mon, you’re right in the church. I’ll cook for you.’ It was just simple. It was never nothing that he thought was going to be this big,” said Stephanie Sanders, the chief operating officer.

Through the decades, that annual tradition has grown to feed more than 40,000 hot Thanksgiving meals last year.

Rev. Mozel Sanders was Stephanie Sanders’ father-in-law. She said the annual event is now one of the largest Thanksgiving meal events in the U.S.

“I know that God has blessed this foundation, and we want to keep it up because he says the poor will be with us always. So, it’s our duty. I expect, if each one would feed one, everyone would be fed. So, it’s our duty to continue this legacy. When I’m gone, I hope my boys continue it,” Sanders said.

For the last 45 years, since 1975, Otis Riggins Jr. has volunteered to deliver Thanksgiving dinners.

“It makes you feel really good. Especially when you’ve been to different locations. You see how people are living, and you see them with a smile on their face because they got something to eat on Thanksgiving. That’s rich right there, man. I don’t know how to put a dollar sign on it. That’s rich, Riggins said.

Riggins has volunteered for the last 45 years and says he hopes other volunteers feel that rich joy.

“I helped somebody today. I actually got the chance to be a part of stopping that growling noise in a person’s stomach when they’re hungry on Thanksgiving. I did my part to make sure that on that day, they got a meal,” Riggins said.

WISH-TV is proud to launch a partnership to help the Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Day dinner. Remember, a donation of $20 helps feed a family of 4.

For more information on how you can help, call Cullen Simpson at 317-809-5721.

For more information, send an email to This website lets people fill out a form to sign up to be volunteers.

Anyone who would like to receive a Thanksgiving meal can call the dinner line at 317-636-7985 from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. through Nov. 15.