Some 40,000 in the Indianapolis area received a hot Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings courtesy of the annual Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Dinner effort. Scores of volunteers packed Butler University’s Atherton Hall for the 41st edition of this annual, unique Indianapolis event sponsored by the Mozel Sanders Foundation and scores of other organizations, including the Stations of Radio One.
Rev. Mozel Sanders began the effort to feed those in need on Thanksgiving in 1972 out the kitchen of his westside Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. Over the years the dinner grew and expanded from the church; first to the old Black-owned Fosters Motor Lodge/Pearl’s Lounge. Then to the old Meadows Motel, then to the campus of Tech High School and then in the 1990’s to the campus of Butler University.
After Rev. Mozel Sanders death in the late 1980’s, the community embraced the Sanders family, first with through his daughter Shante and then to his son Rev. Roosevelt Sanders who assumed the leadership at Mt. Vernon Church where he pastored until his death in 2010. Over the years, thousands have volunteered to help cook, prepare and deliver dinners. From the humblest Hoosier to the famous and mighty; all have shown up to volunteer.
Mayors Bill Hudnut, Steve Goldsmith, Bart Peterson and Greg Ballard have all served a turn preparing meals; as did the late Congresswoman Julia Carson. Longtime State Representative Bill Crawford worked every Thanksgiving. For many years first as Lt. Governor and then Governor Frank O’Bannon and his wife Judy regularly volunteered. Gov. Mitch Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman also volunteered. This year, Gov-elect Mike Pence, his wife Karen and their three children showed up as a family and spent more than an hour preparing meals and loading meals into vehicles.