What is a Thanksgiving dinner without cranberries? Thanks to students from Northside ISD’s Learning Tree After-School program there will be enough cranberries for the 25,000 guests expected at the 36th annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner this year.
For the second year, students accepted the challenge to be the sole provider of cranberries for the annual event, one of the largest Thanksgiving events in the country. According to Patricia Jimenez, daughter of the late Raul Jimenez, it takes 4,688 pounds (or 75,008 ounces) of cranberry sauce to feed that many people. The students’ ultimate goal was to collect 6,500 cans of cranberries during the month of October.
Seventy two Learning Tree sites held a can drive to collect cans from students, families, and school staff. When all the cans were counted, a whopping 11,085 cans had been collected. In the canned drive contest, Hoffmann Elementary School took home first place in the large program category by collecting 844 cans, Thornton Elementary School took home first place in the small program category by collecting 420 cans, and Vale Middle School took home first place in the middle school program category by collecting 151 cans.
“We are so proud of our Learning Tree students and their families,” says Lydia Martinez, director of Adult and Community Education. “Their generosity will impact the thousands of people who attend the Jimenez Thanksgiving dinner this year. These students demonstrate what the holiday season is all about and that is giving back to the community and helping others.”
In addition, the students made placemats and centerpieces that will decorate the tables at the Convention Center where the citywide dinner takes place each year. Several Learning Tree families also plan to volunteer at the event on Thanksgiving Day.