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Mozel Sanders Foundation uplifts mom of 8 with 1 millionth Thanksgiving meal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV once again teamed up with the Mozel Sanders Foundation on Thanksgiving Day to feed people in need. 

This year, the foundation hit a milestone, one that they hope will not be repeated. 

Fifty years ago on Thanksgiving Day, Mozel Sanders saw a need in his neighborhood — neighbors without food — so he started serving his neighbors. On Thursday, the foundation sporting his name served its 1 millionth meal.

Nicole Gonzalez is the mother of eight children. All of them joined her on the front porch of their near-northside duplex to accept the 1 millionth meal.

To say she was thankful would be an understatement. “Well, I teach my kids to be grateful for everything, so they knew when I buy stuff compared to when helped with stuff, I teach them to be grateful for everything as much or as little as people can help with,” Gonzalez said. 

Like many families during the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions have placed an extraordinary burden on the family and a strain on its budget. “It is always rough, you know; all the kids, everyone has appointments, school, but, you know, God is always there, so we always get through it.” Gonzalez said. 

The Gonzalez family lives within walking distance of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, where the meals are prepared. The church’s surrounding neighborhood has struggled with crime and violence.

On a dull, rainy Thanksgiving morning, Gonzalez said she sees the good in her neighbors. “As being a person, like, right here the area I live in isn’t the best, so I see a lot bad things go on compared to different areas, but you guys, the people that contribute to help everybody, actually lets people know that we are all human. It is a big difference compared to watching others that don’t care about each other’s lives,” Gonzalez said. 

On Thursday morning, an army of volunteers gathered at three different kitchens around Indianapolis to prepared the meals. The lion’s share of those meals were prepared, boxed and delivered from the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church kitchen. The governor of Indiana and the mayor of Indianapolis joined the effort for a time on Thursday.   

Close to 10,000 meals were prepared by the army of volunteers. They likely won’t hear or see the appreciation of most of the people receiving the meals.   

Dr. Virginia Caine, whose become well-known as the director of the Marion County Public Health Department during the pandemic, is a longtime Thanksgiving Day volunteer for the meal effort. To her, service to her neighbors and the city is all that matters.  

“We are having the haves and have-nots. That division is getting wider as supposed to closing the gap, we are also seeing an increase in the number of diverse populations that we didn’t see 10 years ago,” Caine said. 

The need in Indianapolis is still great, and the Mozel Sanders Foundation hopes that it takes more than 50 years to feed another million people. 

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