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Thanksgiving dinner celebrates 35 years

Volunteers carry plates of food to waiting diners during the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner. [Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman]

Volunteers carry plates of food to waiting diners during the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner. [Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman]

EDMOND — 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner, founded to bring together people who might otherwise spend Thanksgiving alone.

Liz Laska, who helps coordinate the meal, said it will be held this year at the University of Central Oklahoma's Nigh University Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Started in 1981 by Frank Paradise and his wife, Pat, of First Presbyterian Church, the dinner originally served 50 meals but has grown to more than 3,500 served last year.

Laska said the meal is open to everyone, and in recent years they've been able to feed more students at UCO who cannot be with their families for the holiday.

“The people that started it for the first time were without family, and they did not want to have Thanksgiving alone. We have a lot of families new to town, and a lot of families down on their luck. I've heard that truckers have made plans for their routes on Thanksgiving so they can come to the meal,” Laska said.

Laska said more than 600 volunteers work to make the dinner happen every year by preparing the food, serving and even delivering meals to those who cannot make it to the dinner. More than 300 meals were delivered by volunteers last year.

Laska said all the food is donated by local businesses and churches, including Citizen's Bank, which has donated all the turkeys in recent years.

This year's menu will include turkey, ham, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, corn and green beans.

To volunteer, call First Presbyterian Church, 341-3602, in November or visit www.facebook.com/Edmond
Thanksgiving/.

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›

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