For many, Thanksgiving is about gathering with family around the table — but for some, the family they gathered with Thursday wasn’t necessarily the family they were born into.

“We have a strong sense of family here at Connie Maxwell,” said Dawn Callahan, a cottage mom at the children’s home. “We make our own families.”

With children and families using Connie Maxwell’s services for a variety of different reasons, some children stay in the campus’ cottages during the holiday. Different cottage parents may celebrate in different ways, but this year three cottages got together for a big Thanksgiving Day feast outdoors.

“Some of my family members are coming in to join us, too,” Callahan said on Tuesday. “It gives us a chance to get siblings who live in different cottages together for the holidays.”

In this way, she said the staff can help build a sense of tradition when some of the children may have never celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving.

For Jennie Nation and her six children who moved into a cottage at Connie Maxwell last March, celebrating the holiday together gives her a chance to celebrate being with like-minded people who are focused on caring for children. Circumstances beyond their control left Nation and her children homeless, she said, but she’s still happy to be in good company.

“It is amazing to be surrounded by like-minded people who have a heart for kids,” she said. “We get to be father to the fatherless, as He said. I couldn’t have picked a better place to be.”

While Thanksgiving often gets overlooked because of Connie Maxwell’s famous Christmas display and programs, Callahan said each holiday is a valuable opportunity to make the children and families tied to the organization feel at home.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.