NORMAN â€” Saying this year's Community Thanksgiving Dinner in Norman will be bigger and better than ever is neither an exaggeration nor cliche.
The event is moving from Food and Shelter, where it typically serves up to 400 people, to the Norman High School commons, where at least 750 diners are expected, said Bill George Jr., Food and Shelter Inc.'s social services assistant.
The dinner is from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday.
Renee O'Leary, of United Way of Norman, said about 150 volunteers have signed on to work and â€œwe now are having to turn others away at this point.â€
However, Mission Norman still needs help to assemble and distribute 450 Thanksgiving baskets throughout the community.
Pies and other desserts, rolls and salad dressing are needed to complement the donated 50 turkeys and food items for side dishes. Food and Shelter, 104 W Comanche St., will continue to collect those items today and Wednesday.
Anyone who wants to make a donation for Thanksgiving baskets can do so today at Mission Norman, 2525 E Lindsey St.
Both George and O'Leary said the move to Norman High School is a way to meet increasing demand and to emulate the Community Christmas Dinner with its emphasis on making everyone in the Norman area feel welcome.
â€œWe're trying to allow people to have a lovely experience with great food and to be treated with dignity and respect and to engender in them that everyone has something to feel grateful for,â€ George said.
O'Leary marvels at how the Community Thanksgiving Dinner has brought individuals and businesses together, saying â€œthe collaborative effort of all the agencies pulling together has been amazing.â€
A grant from OEC has provided much of the funding, two businessmen have donated and will prepare 25 turkeys each; the Salvation Army, Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency and state Department of Human Services are pitching in with decorations and setup, and the United Way and city of Norman are promoting the event.
â€œIt seems everyone wants to be a part of it,â€ George said. â€œThe OU women's basketball coaching staff and team are on board and said they will be there. This has helped me realize how generous a place Norman really is.â€