SAN ANTONIO – For years, Thanksgiving in Downtown San Antonio meant crowds of people along Market Street following the smell of turkey and stuffing. Due to the pandemic, this year the Henry B. Convention Center will be empty as the Raúl Jiménez Thanksgiving Dinner is going mobile.
Although there was no need to make centerpieces and placemats for the dinner this year, the North East Independent School District’s Visual Arts Director, Linda Fleetwood, still wanted to get elementary students involved in the community effort.
“We didn’t want to miss out just because the year is strange or because the year has limitations,” Fleetwood said. “What we’re trying to communicate is (that) we feel like we are part of the community and we love the Raúl Jiménez Thanksgiving Dinner.”
Fleetwood the district worked alongside the Jimenez family and came up with the idea for the children to create Thanksgiving cards that could be distributed along with the meals.
“We had one of our elementary art teachers design a lesson for us that would have a card on it,” Fleetwood said. “We literally have thousands of cards boxed up and ready to go. The children loved doing it, and our elementary teachers were excited about doing it.”
Anthony Buendía, a third grader at Castle Hills Elementary, said he felt happy after finishing his handmade and handwritten card to wish a stranger a happy Thanksgiving.
“I liked that we could decorate them and put a turkey inside,” Buendía said.
Buendía said he’s excited for the holiday and thankful he’ll also have the same blessing that the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner will provide for thousands this year.
“I’m thankful that I’m going to eat a turkey,” Buendía said.
A week ahead of the distribution, the NEISD Central Office had a corner full of cards with google-eyed turkeys, colorful scarecrows, feathers made out of construction paper and some even included advice from the children.
One paper plate turkey’s feathers read, “Be grateful. Give thanks. Be kind. Be Genuine.”
Tanya Sammis, spokesperson for the Raúl Jiménez Thanksgiving Dinner, was in charge of picking up the cards to ensure they’re given to the volunteers that will complete the meal drop-offs Thanksgiving Day.
“Looking through those cards really meant a lot because those kids come from that in innocence sense and the place of a child’s heart,” Sammis said. “It is more than a meal. It’s more than sustenance. We want to give this gratitude and thanks.”
Although earlier this month the organization announced they are at capacity in meal requests, they’re still accepting donations to cover the costs of meals.
To make a monetary donation, click here.
To learn more about the Raúl Jiménez Thanksgiving Dinner, click here.