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Mozel Sanders Foundation set to serve millionth Thanksgiving meal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The time for thanks and giving is getting closer, which means volunteers with the Mozel Sanders Foundation are hard at work preparing to feed thousands. It’s a milestone year as the organization prepares to serve its millionth meal.

It’s also a milestone year. Mozel Sanders — the patriarch and founder — started this service 50 years ago. His family has picked up the torch. But they wouldn’t have been able to carry it without the thousands volunteering time and love year after year.

“Service is the rent you pay for your time here on earth.” It’s a well known phrase, and one Kirsten Norwood has lived by for a quite a while. It’s a motto she and her husband now both embrace.

“I think the great thing about service is that you’re really able to reflect on what you have and definitely stay grounded and making sure you were staying thankful,” Norwood said.

She started volunteering with the Mozel Sanders Foundation with her parents as a kid. She’s kept that tradition alive, now able to help with the logistics of getting its annual Thanksgiving dinner organized.

“When I don’t do service, I kind of feel empty,” Norwood said. “And there’s this missing element for myself. But when I do service I feel full and I feel fulfilled and I feel a part of myself being whole again.”

Thousands over the last 50 years have kept the Mozel Sanders legacy of service alive. His grandson, Stephan Sanders, is now leading the charge. There’s always been challenges, but even with a pandemic, they’ve pulled through.

“If it weren’t for the volunteers we would not be able to do any of this,” Sanders said. “There’s people that have been volunteering before I was born.”

In a typical year, the number of volunteers sits at about 2,000. For safety reasons, the numbers aren’t the same this year. But the service and mission stand, Sanders says. The organization is still in need of large kitchen space big enough to prepare 2,000 servings of cornbread dressing, and drivers to get it delivered Thanksgiving Day.

“Actually, people step up,” Sanders said. “This is the time to step up if you really want to make a change in a pandemic. This is when people like us are needed the most.”

Because of the pandemic, the foundation’s typical kitchen can’t be used. However, food and cooking utensils will be provided to any restaurant or company willing to volunteer kitchen space.