WEST COLUMBIA — The spirit of Thanksgiving is coming early this year.

The Brazos Community Thanksgiving Feast will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Columbia High School, 520 S. 16th St., West Columbia. The free meal is open to all area residents.

Created to help disadvantaged families in the area, the feast has broadened its mission to foster the sense of community by including all residents of West Columbia and the surrounding area. The meal will consist of traditional Thanksgiving food including turkey, ham, stuffing, rolls and vegetables. Sonic also donated corn dogs for attending children.

“Everything has gone fantastic so far; a lot of things have poured in,” said Agatha Sanchez, founder of the Sweeny Community Thanksgiving Feast and organizer of its West Columbia cousin. “When this meal is made, we put a lot of ‘Grandma’ type of taste and love into the meal.”

The Jones Creek Cookers barbecue team offered to make 60 turkeys and 40 hams for the feast.

“It’s a great thing; this is what Thanksgiving is about,” Sanchez said. “It’s about unity, it’s not about poverty. To me, the ideal Thanksgiving is about all of us being together. It has continued to grow and it is a wonderful, beautiful thing.”

There are 30 churches, four community organizations and two businesses assisting Sanchez with the feast. Donations of food and funds have covered all the requirements to put on a great event, she said.

“We don’t have to rely on the businesses,” she said. “When most people do an event they have to go to lots of businesses for donations. The strength of the community is pretty powerful.”

Although Thanksgiving is often focused on the food, the community feast is a time to have fun and meet new friends.

“I want residents to see the joy and the fun because we have a lot of fun, that’s one of my ultimate rules,” Sanchez said. “I want to hear laughter in the room; everyone has a blast.”

The feast is meant to mirror the Thanksgiving tradition of a home-cooked meal celebrated with all members of the community.

“There was a time and an era before where people used to do something like this,” Sanchez said. “Not just on church grounds, but the community did. It seems like something you would find in an old novel. We need to look back on how Thanksgiving started and why it started.”

Sanchez and her team want to bring the giving spirit of Thanksgiving to everyone in the county, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

“For some people, it takes a little bit because, when they hear ‘free meal,’ they think they don’t really need to be there because of their income bracket, but this is not about that,” she said. “This is about unity.”

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