Giving Thanks at Milton Hershey School for Thanksgiving
For 113 years, the Milton Hershey School community has celebrated founders Milton and Catherine Hershey in November—the month we focus on giving thanks. The Thanksgiving holiday at MHS has been full of traditions since its earliest days.
One year after the first students enrolled in 1911, Thanksgiving was Mother’s Day at the school. In that time period and for many years after, students did not go home for holidays, their parents/sponsors came to visit them if they were able.
In 1913, students performed for the Hershey community by reciting and singing songs including Turkey Land, Counting Their Blessings, Thanksgiving Joy, Pumpkin Pie, and Over the River. Plays, special activities, and student home feasts have been Thanksgiving traditions throughout MHS history.
As the school grew and the older boys lived on farms, Thanksgiving meant a large dinner—after the farm chores were finished. Though the meal was appreciated, the highlight of the day was the annual football game between student farm homes. No matter the climate or surroundings, this tradition is a fond memory for many alumni.
An article written by a student in November 1938 issue of The Industrialist, contained the following Thanksgiving message, “There is no doubt about the adage, ‘It is better to give than receive.’ However, this does not mean we should neglect the spirit of receiving. We should certainly learn to accept the many opportunities offered to us by the facilities of Hershey Industrial School.”