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Giving Thanks at Milton Hershey School

For 111 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.

Memorial Hall Thanksgiving in 1999

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.

Memorial Hall Thanksgiving in 1997

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.

students playing football on Thanksgiving

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.”

Milt Quote about Living Monument

Holiday Celebrations in 2020

Like in the early days of the school, this year our students will celebrate Thanksgiving safely in their student homes with a special holiday meal. They will also kick off the Christmas season with a student home decorating contest to make the season bright.


Milton Hershey School is carefully following federal and state guidelines, CDC considerations, and MHS-established health and safety protocols to keep our campus a safe, nurturing, and healthy place. Any group photos of unmasked subjects were taken prior to the face coverings mandate.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.