EDMOND — Chang Liu, 19, of China, had her first Thanksgiving Day meal Thursday at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Liu was one of more than 2,000 people who ate turkey at the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner event.
She said she is studying piano at UCO and, like many international students, wanted somewhere to go for a meal with friends since family is far away, she said.
She ate turkey and the dessert, she said. After the meal her plan was to “sleep,” and then “shop” and then “study.”
The food she said was “good, really good,” Liu said.
Volunteers started showing up for the Thanksgiving meal to help set up about 5 a.m. said volunteer Dan Martel, 50, of Edmond. There were hundreds of volunteers on hand. By 9 a.m., several hundred people had already eaten, Martel said.
“It has been busy,” Martel, said. “As soon as we opened the doors it was busy.”
Blaize Paradise, 12, of Edmond, said he had been helping prepare for the dinner for several days. He helped cook and performed a number of various tasks.
“I feel a little better when I help people out,” Paradise said. “And I really had nothing else to do today.”
Mike Laska, 64, of Edmond, has been organizing the Edmond Thanksgiving dinner for 31 years.
“We are excited about today,” Laska said. “It's a good turnout.”
“We've had more than enough help,” Laska said. “We are real excited about all the people who show up.”
Hundreds of helpers
He said more than 600 volunteers helped put on the event.
It was the fifth year for the Thanksgiving meal at UCO.
In the past, the meals have been served at area churches.
“After our 25th year, we got to the point we realized we needed a home, some place to call our own,” Laska said.
He said more than 1,000 people took meals home to deliver them to others who could not be in the UCO Nigh University Center.
The event is good for volunteers, too, who want to do something positive in their community, he said.
“The fellowship is not just with those people we serve, but we serve the volunteers,” Laska said. “Because the volunteers have a need to serve, they have a need for fellowship. They have a need for community, and it is as much for the volunteers as it is for the people who come and enjoy their dinner here.”
Volunteers cooked 150 turkeys. About 500 pounds of potatoes, 450 pounds of sweet potatoes, 25 pounds of cornbread, 75 loaves of bread, 80 gallons of broth and 50 gallons of gravy were prepared for the meal.