“It’s all about camaraderie,” Nelson said. “We have music, and the food is terrific.”
The organization’s annual dinner is no small feat.
Organizers take several weeks to contact community members about the dinner and purchase food and supplies, said Kirk Christensen, the organization’s dinner committee chairman.
Community donations pay for the dinner, which feeds more than 500 people, he said.
“We don’t turn anybody away until the food is gone,” Christensen said.
A meal including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, dinner rolls and drinks cost $4.75 per person.
The organization received more donations this year than last year, totaling about $3,500, Christensen said.
“It’s just good to be able to give back,” Christensen said.
Twenty-eight Bellarmine-Jefferson High School students volunteered to serve beverages and food plates.
Alexis Bersab, 17, said helping others is a duty he must fulfill.
“It makes you a better person,” he said.
After visiting his family in the Philippines, Alexis said he saw that many people needed everyday items like food and clothing.
The dinner was critical to families because it brought them together, he said.
“I think it’s important because so many people don’t get this dinner,” Alexis said.
Burbank resident Laura Cervantes usually doesn’t get to eat turkey or stuffing.
The 72-year-old doesn’t work, so she goes to the organization every month to get a box of food staples like rice, beans or pasta. The Columbia native came to the United States about 13 years and hopes to become a citizen in a few months.
“They give a lot help here, and services,” she said.
But she hasn’t missed a Thanksgiving dinner at the organization since she started attending the event six years ago.
“They are all very nice here,” Cervantes said. “It’s precious.”
She lives alone and enjoys the company at the dinner.
“We eat together, talk and listen to good music,” she said. “It’s better than being alone.”