UHS seeks donations, volunteers for its Thanksgiving feast
URBANA — The Urbana High School Student Senate is sponsoring its annual Thanksgiving dinner for the community this year, but it needs more community donations in order to buy food for the feast.
Student Senate President Audrey Spears said the student group needs financial donations and can't accept food, because of rules that say the group has to purchase food directly to serve to the public.
"People in our community have been very generous to the dinner, but this year we are still trying to reach our goal," Spears said. "We hope more dollars, big or small, will come in soon."
Those who wish to can drop donations off at the high school, or send a check payable to UHS Student Senate to 1002 S. Race St., Urbana, IL 61801.
The dinner is also in need of volunteers, both to serve food and to drive those who need transportation and can donate the use of their own cars and gas.
The dinner serves about 300 people who can't be near their families on Thanksgiving Day, or who don't have families, Spears said. It has also served international University of Illinois students to want to learn about American Thanksgiving, she said.
"People can come and enjoy the company of others, be served by friendly faces, and likely meet new people," Spears said. "It is also important because we arrange transportation for folks who cannot get to the dinner on their own."
Those who want to attend or volunteer can also call 384-3505, extension 4036, for more information or reservations.
"Of equal importance is the fact that we serve from 5 to 7 p.m., allowing flexible times for people to get the meal," she said. "This occasion is one of the most successful undertakings of Urbana High School students, as well as for the greater Urbana area."
It's also an opportunity for Urbana students and other volunteers to serve the community, she said. Every year, about 100 volunteers participate, including families who have stayed involved even after their kids graduate high school.
"In my family alone, my mother, aunt, uncle, sister, grandparents and I have all participated in the preparation and serving over the 35 years of the past 42 the school has been hosting the event," she said. "Volunteers take away more than they imagined, even more than they feel they are giving."
Last year, the student senate expanded the dinner's offerings to include ham.
"It turned out to be a big hit," she said. "Many people complimented us on the choice. The new addition was enjoyed so much, we decided to offer it again this year."
Urbana Principal Matthew Stark said he loves the idea of the dinner, even though he's new to the job.
"I just really like that community feel that it has," he said, adding that students, parents, staff members and volunteers give up their own Thanksgiving days "to allow community members a nice meal."