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Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner Preparing To Feed 25,000 People

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Students from Castle Hills Elementry hold up placemats and center pieces that will be used at the dinner.

  With 24 days until Thanksgiving, preparations for the annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner are underway.  More than 25,000 people are expected to be fed at what was started as a family passion and has become community-wide devotion and dedication.

For the Jimenez family the annual Thanksgiving dinner — that takes over the convention center — is a labor of love. Patricia Jimenez said her father Raul wanted to give to people who had very little. “It was all started because he knew that senior citizens were often alone and didn’t have the resources to have their meal, and he thought, ‘How could anybody be left alone especially on Thanksgiving Day?’”

Raul Jimenez passed in 1998 leaving behind a legacy which Patricia upholds as the chairwoman for the dinner.  The dinner was started in 1971 in Ft. Worth and had about 50 people served in Raul Jimenez's restaurant The dinner moved to San Antonio in 1979 with around 200 attendees that year.  

After the first few years people began sending money. “Individuals, all on their accord, started to send $5, $10, with a little note saying this is a very good thing, we want to continue to help.” Those donations have grown to more than $200,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions.  

It takes more than 4,000 on-site volunteers, 9,000 pounds of turkey, 6,200 green beans and yams, 650 pounds of gravy, and 3,000 pumpkin pies to put on the dinner ever year. About 80 volunteers are still needed.