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This Thursday: Giving Thanks, The San Antonio Way

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Mayla Moore (right) joins other volunteers pulling turkey meat to be served.

At least once a year, the Convention Center in downtown San Antonio rings out with the sound of music and laughter, and the giving of thanks. Inside, in the kitchens, volunteers like Mayla Moore, of the NAACP youth council, are working around the clock in preparation for an annual feast that caters specifically to those who are too old, or too alone, or just not fortunate enough to be able to afford a real Thanksgiving meal.

Moore believes that volunteering for The Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner is important. “I just love helping people, and also, its food! You’ve got to give people food, they’ve got to eat. I know I’m making a difference by doing this.”

It takes 4,000 volunteers from Sunday through Thursday to cook, prepare, and serve the turkey meal with all the accompaniments. And Patricia Jimenez, the daughter of Raul Jimenez, and chairperson of the event, is deeply grateful to everyone who makes this possible, every year. “It only took four days for us to get all of the volunteers we needed, the outpour from the community has been tremendous.

How much food does it take? Try 500 turkeys, 6,700 lbs each of green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and yam, and thousands of slices of pie. Chef Daniel Gomez oversees the cooking and says the food also goes to Meals on Wheels. “They drive up on the side of Market St., they come in and say ‘I’m next, I’m ready,’ and they give them however many meals [requested] and the addresses.”

The dinner began 35 years ago, in 1979, by local businessman Raul Jiminez, to feed 200 senior citizens who otherwise would not have had a Thanksgiving. It has grown to feed 25,000 people. The doors of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will open at 9 a.m. and dinner will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.