Mountaire Farms is celebrating its 25th year of spearheading an effort to feed thousands of families in need across Delmarva during the holidays with its Thanksgiving for Thousands event.

It all started because a local church in Dagsboro could no longer accommodate the 100 hungry people it was feeding every holiday. They were running out of room. It was decided a boxed meal system could feed more families in need and, with Mountaire’s help, the Thanksgiving for Thousands program was born. That first year, 300 boxes were packed and distributed.

This year, 20,000 boxes will be packed — 10,000 on Delmarva and 10,000 in North Carolina — to help feed families during the holiday.

On Delmarva, it all begins with a food drive on Nov. 16. Seventeen area grocery stores will be collecting non-perishable food items as volunteers from various organizations come together to help. Twelve different volunteer groups including local VFWs and American Legions, Lions Clubs, church groups and more will be out in front of stores handing out lists of what is needed and collecting donated items. Area schools have also been collecting cans for the effort.

Hundreds of volunteers will gather Nov. 25 at the Mountaire Farms warehouse, 50 Hosier St., Selbyville, to pack 10,000 boxes with a complete Thanksgiving dinner for a family, including a Mountaire Farms chicken. Boxes also include corn, string beans, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and a brownie mix for dessert. The packing begins at 8:30 a.m. and runs until the last box is packed and loaded up that afternoon. The distribution of those boxes happens the next day when various community organizations pick up boxes and help distribute to families in need.

“We look forward to this event every year because it brings people together,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms. “Our company has always been involved in feeding people, but it’s especially meaningful for everyone to come together to help out during the holiday season. And to celebrate 25 years shows we really are committed to making a difference.”

In North Carolina, employees and volunteers will pack 7,500 boxes at Mountaire’s Lumber Bridge plant, and 2,500 at the new Siler City location. Community groups there will help distribute the boxes to needy families.

For more, visit mountaire.com or call 934-1100.