By Greg Gelpi and Michael Davis

Thanks is a simple word often dropped with little thought. Some area residents, though, have special reasons to be appreciative this Thanksgiving.

The College Park Housing Authority and Board of Directors fed all 260 families in the city's public housing this week. Each family received a Thanksgiving box with a 20-pound turkey and all of the fixings.

Volunteers from the housing authority and the community boxed up the dinners and handed them out at the apartments.

Marquez Barner, 11, joined in the volunteer work and expressed his appreciation for the Thanksgiving feast.

"Mostly, the people here are the backbone of College Park," Barner said. "If it wasn't for the backbone of College Park, I don't know what the people would do."

The housing authority raised $7,000 to buy the turkeys, collard greens, apple pies, croissants, canned vegetables and cranberry sauce.

Barner added that along with the meal, he has more to be thankful for.

"I'm thankful for my mom bringing me into this world," he said.

Rhunette Lindsay, the chairwoman of the board, led the campaign to round up donations.

Residents addressed the board about their need for assistance, explaining that food often runs low towards the end of the month, Lindsay said.

"I just have a passion for helping people anyway," she said. "It came to fruition because the commission wanted to do something for all of the residents."

Residents receiving the food also participated in the food distribution.

"I feel great about it. I really do," Sandra Arnold, one of resident volunteers said. "Anytime you help other people it's a great feeling."

Although she is a resident of public housing, Arnold said she was thankful for what she does have.

"I'm just as needy as the next, but I'm sure that there are those that are more needy than I," she said.

Others in the community, paused to give thanks as well.

"I'm thankful for my friends and family and especially thankful that we live in a country and in a society where we have freedom of speech rights and rights to our religious beliefs," said Chris Hale of McDonough.

"Three years ago, before 9/11, we just walked around and nobody really thought there could be a strike against America," he said. "But when you didn't see an airplane in the sky – it was an eerie feeling."

Hale said it has been nice to see so many people pull together and get behind the country's efforts to combat terrorism. "I'm thankful that Americans from all across the country can bond together when we really need to do so," Hale said.

Becky Stuart of Jonesboro said she is thankful for her freedom.

She is thankful for being an American and being free from persecution, able to practice her religion freely, she said, adding that she is also thankful for her family.

"This is what I'm thankful for," she said turning to her daughters. "I'm thankful for my family."

Sydney Maher, 14, gave thanks for being American as well. She lived in Germany for six years, she said.

"I'm thankful for my mom giving birth to me at her age," Maher also said.

With the coming of Thanksgiving, a common theme among many was gratitude for family and friends.

"It's great to have people around you like that," said Barbara Phillips of Locust Grove. She said she is most grateful for her friends and family, "Because I have them. They're wonderful and I love them very much."

Amanda Corbitt of McDonough said she is thankful for her friends, family and youth group at Bethany Baptist Church. "I'm thankful for all the blessings in my life," she said.

Summer Lynn, also a member of that youth group, agreed that, "You have to be thankful for everything God puts in your path."