At first only Mikey wants to participate in the Thanksgiving can drive competition against the unbeatable Ashleys, because unlike everyone else who see it as a contest he sees it as helping the needy. Rallying against the Ashleys the other kids unite but lose sight of the real purpose of the competition in doing so.
While Miss Grotke finishes giving a history lecture on how Thanksgiving was founded, Principal Prickly gives an announcement, reminding everyone about the annual Thanksgiving can drive starting, "to help the homeless, the hungry, the handicapped, etc., etc.", adding that the winning class that collects the most cans by the week's end receives a lovely turkey dinner. The class feels humiliated, but Miss Grotke informs the class that the can drive is a fun school tradition. T.J., Vince, Gretchen and Spinelli inform her that every year since kindergarten, the class with The Ashleys has always won the can drive no matter how much cans the other classes have collected, and everyone knows that since they're in Miss Furley's class, that class is going to win. Miss Grotke replies that they have just as much chance of winning as the next class, and they just have to work at it. As the class exits, they see the Ashleys with bins of cans they have already collected ahead. At first, the entire class wants to drop out of the drive, but Mikey still wants to participate, not believing in winning or losing. As the drive begins, Mikey's classmates think he has no chance.
By the next day, the Ashleys have still collected more cans than Mikey, and during lunchtime, while Mikey's friends comfort him, the Ashleys taunt them for giving him advice on how to lose. The gang save for Mikey declare that they're going to beat the Ashleys in the drive. With that, they help Mikey collect more cans. However, they later see that the Ashleys are using machines to collect more of theirs. The gang gets an idea on letting more kids join in.
At first, the other kids (including Swinger Girl, Hustler Kid, The Diggers, and Guru Kid) refuse, but are later convinced to join after the gang says that they're "going to beat the Ashleys". With that, they help the gang collect a lot more cans for Miss Grotke's class.
On stage, all the cans have formed a pyramid, and a graduate student (Miss Eudora Finkelstein from Third Street Elementary's Class of 1928), holds the turkey for the winning class. However, the final results for Miss Grotke and Miss Furley's classes each have 4,362 cans, resulting in a tie. This disappoints both sides, except for Mikey who says that it's perfect, and either side needs one more can to win, which Miss Finkelstein has (she was going to give it to the winning class). The classes get into a tug of war over it, but Mikey declares both classes to put the cans together and forget about the turkey, as he still believes that can drives aren't about competition, and are "about helping people and being generous and sharing [their] bounty". However, Mikey's words fall on deaf ears, and the tug of war resumes. But the last can slips off of Miss Finkelstein's hands (due to her unable to hold it any longer), and it rolls over to the pyramid, which topples over, letting the cans' contents splatter over everyone. Mikey tells off both sides for their selfishness, adding that nobody, not even the homeless, is going to have a good Thanksgiving. The rest of the gang and the Ashleys hang their heads in shame, knowing that Mikey is right.
The next morning, a downhearted Mikey walks to the classroom only to find it empty. The rest of the gang and the Ashleys find him, telling him that they felt really bad about what happened, and they decided to work together as a team, collecting twice as many cans as before (Spinelli got her cousin Nick from Fifth Street school to help, the Diggers got help from their society friends, and even Swinger Girl got help from the swinger convention) which impresses Mikey. And if that were not enough, the Feedbin store even got to donate a truckload of food to every homeless shelter in the city. And it is all thanks to Mikey, because, thanks to him, both Miss Grotke and Miss Furley's classes realize that working with each other is better than working against each other.
Just then, Principal Prickly announces that the Holiday toy drive is beginning the following Monday.
- November 1997 (around Thanksgiving)
- Continuity error: In this episode, all of the Ashleys are in Miss Furley's class; yet in the rest of the series, all of them or half of them are in Miss Grotke's class. In many episodes, only Ashley Q. and Ashley T. are in her class.
- Animation error: During the scene where the pyramid of cans falls, some scenes of the cans falling and the kids running away are played twice and in reverse. Moreover, when the cans fall, and Miss Grotke jumps off of the stage, she's wearing her usual outfit instead of the Native American outfit she wears for most of the episode.
- Continuity error: In the episode "Swing on Thru to the Other Side", Vince says "The kids in Miss Furley's class said she [Swinger Girl] never showed up for school today". However, in this episode, Swinger Girl is ready to beat the Ashleys in Miss Grotke's (the gang's) class, meaning she's not in her class.
- This episode is the series' Thanksgiving special.
- This episode was released on the VHS and DVD, Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street.
- According to this episode, Third Street School has been open since the 1920's.
- This is the first Holiday special in the series.
- The sign above the can pyramid in the auditorium reads "Catch Can Fever", a possible reference to the 1977 song "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent; or the disease the song is named after.
- T.J. Detweiler - Ross Malinger
- Vince LaSalle - Rickey D'Shon Collins
- Ashley Spinelli - Pamela Segall-Adlon
- Gretchen Grundler - Ashley Johnson
- Mikey Blumberg - Jason Davis
- Gus Griswald - Courtland Mead
- Miss Grotke - Allyce Beasley
- Principal Prickly - Dabney Coleman
- Dave - Ryan O'Donohue
- Sam/Guru Kid/Kid #2 - Klee Bragger
- Swinger Girl/Ashley Boulet - Francesca Smith
- Ashley Armbruster/Kid #1 - Anndi McAfee
- Ashley Quinlan - Rachel Crane
- Hustler Kid - Michael Shulman
- Eudora B. Finklestien - Tress MacNeille