Along with these beautiful fall days comes the hearty tradition of Thanksgiving, a belly-grumbling festival of multiple courses and aromas weaving through kitchens everywhere in the United States. Thanksgiving is a time when families come together to celebrate their thanks, rejoice in their love for one another, and cook a delicious meal only to gobble it down at the end of the night.
But at Urbana High School, Thanksgiving is celebrated, not only for individual families, but for the community as well. For over 40 years, Student Senate has organized and hosted a generous Thanksgiving Dinner, bringing in many locals who have trouble recreating this wonderful tradition in their own homes. This year, the dinner will be held on Nov. 22 from 5-7 p.m. in the Commons at UHS.
Kayla Estes, President of Student Senate, explains, “We provide a completely free meal for everyone who attends. Many of our guests would not receive any dinner Thanksgiving evening if we did not provide one. I really enjoy the fact that we can help the less fortunate in our community.”
Ms. Yvonne Alvarez strongly believes in Estes’ statement, as she has been a Student Senate Advisor for over nine years. She says, “The dinner is important because it gives those who don’t have family and cannot travel home a place to share a meal with others. It is a community coming together to help those in need, even if it is just to have a conversation.”
The less fortunate are certainly helped. Last year, roughly 350 people attended the dinner. Local volunteers cook the traditional meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, while members of Student Senate serve the guests each course.
There are many traditions that tend to be more exclusive to their affiliated religions, like Christmas and Hanukkah. However, Thanksgiving is a holiday fit for everyone, regardless of their religion, race, or income. Urbana High School celebrates the thankful spirits of the students, parents, and community members who come together to make such an admirable event possible.
Estes says, “Seeing the guests’ smiles and knowing that the Senate’s dinner was the reason for it makes all of our hard work worth it. It’s nearly indescribable to know that we can make such a difference right here in our community.”
For those who plan to attend this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner, be sure to expect great conversation, delicious food, and the pleasure of knowing that you will be spending this joyous holiday with your own friends and neighbors.