San Antonio Thanksgiving tradition pivots to doorstep deliveries due to pandemic

Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner volunteers delivered 10,000 meals

SAN ANTONIO – Not even a pandemic could stop the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner this year, but it did need to pivot from a crowded ballroom filled with food and festivities at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to doorstep deliveries.

A spokeswoman said Corazon Ministries and SAMM Ministries also picked up meals to distribute to the city’s homeless population.

“You’d be amazed by what happens when people come together for the right reasons,” said Raul Jimenez III, the founder’s grandson.

The event started in 1979 by his grandfather, a restaurant owner and businessman, to provide seniors and anyone else in need the Thanksgiving dinners they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“My grandpa said, ‘We come into this world with nothing. We’ll leave this world with nothing. It’s what we do in between that counts,’” Jimenez said.

Through the years, small armies of volunteers have carried on his grandfather’s legacy, cooking, serving, cleaning and doing whatever needs to be done.

The long-standing tradition involves serving up 25,000 meals at the Convention Center.

But this year, 10,000 meals were delivered over the last two days by the 250 volunteers who fanned out in their vehicles across the city from the Convention Center.

Meals on Wheels organized the routes given that the nonprofit delivers meals almost daily to homebound seniors. It was among 40 organizations that partnered with the event’s organizers to make the needed transition.

Jimenez said resiliency and adaptability make events worthwhile, but it’s also unity and love.

“We’ve been blessed,” Jimenez said. “We’ve been honored to continue the legacy and we’re going to continue to give meals to those that need it the most on the most thankful day of the year.”

RELATED: Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner reaches full capacity in meal requests, closes registration

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.