Students make a difference for those in need on Thanksgiving

Pat Gareau

Editor-in Chief

Many around the nation will be unable to afford a special meal this Thursday, but Hudson Valley students are helping make sure that those in need will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this year.

Between 20 and 30 people from Hudson Valley, including faculty and staff, volunteered to assist in preparing the Equinox Thanksgiving Community Dinner on Nov. 23 and 24. The meal will serve more than 10,000 local residents who are lonely, homebound, or homeless.

“I think it is a relief for them to know that in our economy and in their social standing they can provide their family with a meal to eat together,” said Joelle Connor, president of Circle K club.

Circle K leads the volunteer effort at Hudson Valley, along with the campus ministry. It is an annual tradition for Hudson Valley to be involved in preparing the meal, which involves thousands of pounds of turkey, potatoes, and vegetables.

Connor has participated in the event for the last three years as a Hudson Valley student. “I like giving back to people in our immediate area,” she said.

Campus Chaplain Cylon George has been involved in the Thanksgiving volunteer effort since starting at Hudson Valley in 2011. “Any kind of serving, any kind of volunteering is important to me because we all feel some kind of obligation and call to serve others,” he said.

Many of the meals that are prepared by the volunteers will be delivered right to families’ doors on Thanksgiving. “You could see when you came to a person’s door how thankful they were for the meal. It gives them hope,” said George.

The Equinox Thanksgiving Community Dinner started more than 40 years ago when a dinner was held for college students who could not travel home to see their families for the holiday. This legacy resonated with George, who first came to the United States as a college student after growing up in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I was one of those people who came as an international student who felt like they had nowhere to go on the holiday. It was one of the first times I experienced this country’s hospitality,” said George, who was invited to eat with some friends he’d met at college.

The Equinox dinner seeks to extend that hospitality to individuals and families who would have not otherwise had it on the holiday.

“I think the students are very gratified and go away feeling thankful for their own lives and thankful that they are able to contribute to this bigger thing. I think it gives them perspective and meaning for their own lives,” said George.

“We’re helping people. It makes me feel good about myself. I consider myself very fortunate and to give to other people is very nice,” said Connor.

“Call it a spiritual law. When you give, you get, even if it’s just satisfaction. You are being filled, and not just in your stomachs,” said George.

 

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