ST. GEORGE – A Thanksgiving tradition started over 40 years ago continues at the Red Rock Canyon School, 747 East St. George Blvd., in St. George Thursday as the students, faculty and volunteers roll out a Thanksgiving dinner for the community.
The school has been preparing for the dinner since August, said Tami McCloughan, who works at the school. Between then and now, she said, the school has collected around 200 turkeys and 250 pies for the community dinner.
“It’s a huge project,” she said.
The event has grown in size as attendance has steadily increased in recent years. In 2012, it was estimated that around 2,000 took part in the dinner. Last year it was over 3,000, McCloughan said.
McCloughan has been involved in preparing the community dinner for four years. The first two years were spent preparing for the event in a general nature, while the last two years she has been involved in helping to collect donations of food and money, along with coordinating volunteers.
For her, McCloughan said, the best part of it all is when the event starts at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving and people are lined up and waiting for food to begin to be served.
“It’s pretty warm and fuzzy,” she said.
The dinner is open to everyone in the community – from those who are down on their luck and in need to college students who may not have a place to go on the holiday.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Frank Habibian, owner of the Red Rock Canyon School, previously told St. George News.
McCloughan said the dinner has been an eye-opener. She’s lived in St. George since 1978 and hadn’t realized how many people in the area are impoverished and in need until she became more involved in the event.
The school’s 40-year tradition of holding a Thanksgiving community dinner started with Habibian while he was a high school exchange student visiting the United States from Iran. Habibian described himself as lonely and homesick at the time and had no idea what Thanksgiving was until invited to spend it with an American family.
Thanks to the great impression left by the experience, Habibian has shared Thanksgiving with others as much as possible for 43 years now.
The Red Rock Canyon School is a youth treatment center location at 747 E. St. George Blvd., and can be reached at 435-673-6111 for additional information.
- When: Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Where: Red Rock Canyon School, 747 E. St. George Blvd., St. George
- Admission: Free to the public
- Red Rock Canyon School Website | Facebook | Telephone: 425-674-6111
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