The numbers behind the 36th Annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner are incredible: 4,000 volunteers will help serve 9,400 pounds of turkey, 6,250 pounds of stuffing and 4,688 pounds of yams to the 25,000 hungry visitors at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Thursday.
A holiday tradition in San Antonio, the annual event provides hot, delicious meals for senior citizens and needy individuals who are unable to afford or prepare a special feast on Thanksgiving Day. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds work to contribute the cooking, transportation, security and clean up services required for the event.
Isabel Fears, the Jefferson High School Math Department Chair, has donated her time and encouraged students to take part in the Thanksgiving tradition for 15 years. She attracts new student volunteers through announcements and photographs that she puts up in the cafeteria every year.
“This is their holiday, they come and give it all up on there own,” Fears said.
University of the Incarnate Word freshman Mikey Carmelia, a former Jefferson student, has been volunteering at the Raul Jimenez dinner for three years.
“It’s a really rewarding way to get the community service hours I need and also help out everybody that comes for the Thanksgiving dinner every year,” Carmelia said.
Patricia Jimenez, the daughter of the late Raul Jimenez, also carries on her father’s tradition of giving.
“The community has embraced us and what started out as my dad’s dream has become a community event that everybody cares about,” Jimenez said.”I feel very honored that my father had his vision to help the needy, but I feel more honored that people have continued 17 years after his death to support the cause because they believe in his dream and they carry on his legacy. There are so many people in need and nothing brings me more joy than to see the smiling faces that day, it”s very touching.”
Individuals and families can click here to volunteer for the Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday.
*Top Image: An assembly line of volunteers separate the white meat from the dark meat on large prep tables. Photo by Scott Ball.