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Hall Boys & Girls Clubs enjoy early Thanksgiving
Mike Dean hands out plates of food at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County as he volunteers during its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the club.

Thanksgiving may be about a week away, but Thursday evening members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County feasted like kings and queens.

"We have a big Thanksgiving dinner for the kids every year," said Steven Mickens, the club's director of physical education programs. "It's our way of showing the kids that we appreciate them."

Thursday's appreciation came in the form of a meal with all of the trimmings - turkey, green beans, macaroni and cheese, dressing and lemonade.

Although most of the children are typically gone by 5:30 p.m., you could hear requests of "Please, please, please can I stay" as the meal was being set out on the serving line.

"Turnstile Deli donated the entire meal," Mickens said.
Members of the Zeta Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity helped serve more than 200 meals to the excited students. The kids even got to enjoy a performance from a St. Johns Baptist Church praise team and a quartet from St. Paul Methodist Church.

"We like to have events like this because a lot of the kids don't get to experience having a big, sit-down, family meal at home," Mickens said. "So this is our way of building that family tradition with them."

Thursday's dinner wasn't the first time the club has used food as a tool to help broaden students' horizons. During the summer, officials with the Georgia Mountain Food Bank provided lunches for the students to help teach them about healthy eating options. The meals contained foods such as fresh blueberries, turkey sandwiches and juice.

At the beginning of the school year, the food bank also launched a Munch Bunch program at the club. The goal of that program also was to encourage students to choose healthy food options, this time in the form of an after-school snack.

According to club officials, they'll repeat the feast again in a few weeks - only that one will include a visit and gifts from Santa.