MARIETTA - Today millions of Americans will gather around the table with friends and family and count their blessings.
For some there are new beginnings and for others longtime loves. But no matter what their reasons, residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley say they have plenty for which to be thankful.
Adam Morris, a junior, is in his first year at the Washington County Career Center and said he is grateful for the changes the career center has brought.
Washington County Career Center students Isaiah Mayle, left, Brayden King, center, and Norman Pritchard share food and laughter as they enjoy WCCC’s annual family-style Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Jasmine Rogers)
"I've made a lot of new friends up here," he said.
Morris, a Marietta resident, passed around bowls of potatoes, hunks of turkey, and slices of pie as he joked with his newfound friends Wednesday at the career center's annual family-style Thanksgiving dinner.
Nearby, career center senior Brayden King, of Waterford, added that he would have been less successful if it had not been for the support of so many caring family members, friends and mentors.
"I'm just thankful for everybody that has been behind me," he said.
Career center Superintendent Dennis Blatt said the school is lucky to have such a close-knit community feel.
"We really have a family atmosphere here. The focus is always on doing the best we can for the students and our staff really does that," he said.
Students at the career center are not the only ones enjoying a good education.
"I'm thankful for school," said 6-year-old McKenna Ianetti, throwing up her hands and nearly jumping from her seat.
McKenna and her sister, 3-year-old Madison Ianetti, who are visiting from Pennsylvania, were enjoying an outing in Marietta Wednesday with their grandmother and aunt, who are both from Parkersburg.
"I'm in elementary school," explained McKenna, pointing out that she was a big girl now.
Madison, however, had a tougher time deciding "her favorite thing."
"Is it your freckles?" asked her aunt Sandra Kernaghan.
Madison shook her head.
"Is it your sisters?" asked grandma Jo Ann Grizwold.
Nope. Not that either.
Finally, Madison whispered her answer.
"It's mommy and daddy," she said.
Many area residents listed employment as something they are grateful for this year. And having a job you absolutely love makes it that much better, said Williamstown resident Jeri Knowlton, who serves as the executive director of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"I'm very blessed to be able to represent and promote a very unique town. I'm able to do something that is fabulous and I love. Not everybody can say that," said Knowlton.
At the Washington County Courthouse, Vienna resident Aaron Faulk, 27, said he feels grateful to be employed as an oil and gas abstractor. However, said Faulk, the job is only a small piece of the puzzle.
"I'm thankful for my wife, my soon to be baby, Jesus, and my salvation," said Faulk running down a long list of blessings.
Faulk, in fact, was still glowing with the news of his impending fatherhood.
"We just found out a couple of days ago," he said.
In July, Faulk moved from New Haven, W.Va., to Vienna. Though he was a bit nervous at the time, everything has fallen into place.
"I'm definitely here for a reason," he said.
Since moving, he married his wife, found a great job and is now eagerly anticipating fatherhood.
"The point I'm at in my life is just full of opportunity," said Faulk.