A brass quintet from Flowery Branch High School joined professional Falcons players Monday night to give a spirited Thanksgiving to people who didn't think they'd have one.
Falcons defensive end Jamaal Anderson and defensive tackle Trey Lewis served food to men at the Atlanta Union Mission and signed autographs as a handful of Flowery Branch band students played Canadian Brass Christmas arrangements.
"This is something Jamal and Trey came to me about," said Chris Millman, the Falcons' community relations manager.
"They wanted to do something special for folks for Thanksgiving, so we put our heads together and threw out ideas. The full meal includes sweet potato soufflé to the stuffing to the turkey."
This is the first year Anderson and Lewis proposed the idea, but they hope to make it a tradition.
"They really want to help pick people's spirits up around this time of year," Millman said. "Then we had the idea to provide live music to make it spirited."
That's where the Flowery Branch quintet came into the picture. Band director Dennis Naughton got a call Thursday and quickly pulled together some students for practice.
"One of the main reasons we do it is to reach out the community," said Adam Youngman, a senior who plays the trumpet. "We want to grow the band program's size and feel, and a great way to do that is through outreach."
The group jumped at the idea of performing in the community, especially reaching to Atlanta.
"It's important to me because I love playing, and we're playing for people in need," said Jake Jansen, a sophomore who plays the trombone.
The students practiced Monday afternoon before heading to Atlanta to perform.
"It's an awesome opportunity, and I always love to help with the homeless," said Hayden Prichard, a junior who plays the French horn. "It's cool that we get to play instruments and do what we're good at to help them."
The Atlanta Union Mission was established in 1938 as a refuge for homeless and hungry individuals displaced by the Great Depression. Over the years, the mission has grown from a single shelter in downtown Atlanta to six facilities, which provide emergency food and shelter, residential recovery programs and transitional housing.