The Holiday Spirit is off to a strong start for community members residing in the 95361. Last week school campuses throughout the Oakdale Joint Unified School District collected cans as part of the annual school site can drive for Oakdale Community Sharing.
Volunteers and organizers of the annual Spirit of Oakdale remain busy collecting cooked turkeys, baked dessert items and are doing meal prep for the 24th annual dinner, which will be hosted on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23. The free to all, community dinner will be served up at the Gene Bianchi Community Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Not to be outdone and upholding to their own community tradition, this past Friday saw 26 Knights Ferry School seventh and eighth grade students giving up some traditional classroom time to serve a Thanksgiving meal at the town’s Community Club building.
Randy Russell coordinated the meal for his eighth year as a Knights Ferry School teacher and was on hand to oversee the students. Russell teaches the seventh and eighth graders at the ‘little school on the hill.’
“All of the kids’ families donate,” he said of the meal which was being served to local residents. “We get four parents, usually eighth grade parents, to make a turkey.”
The remainder of the items needed for the complete meal are delegated by the teacher to individual students. He estimated that each year they serve close to 100 people from the community and surrounding areas.
“I think for us to show the kids how they can give back to the community,” he noted of the event’s importance. “We’re trying to do local based education, so this is a thing where they can give to their community.”
During the course of the meal the 26 students are rotated to varying stations throughout the community club facility, from greeting at the front door, filling their guests’ plates in the service line or assisting them to the tables to enjoy their meals.
A veteran of the community service meal, eighth grader Tate Cassaretto shared his enthusiasm for the meal as well as the Thanksgiving holiday itself.
“To feed the people and help them out,” he said when posed with the question of what he found most rewarding. “It’s fun.”
As for his favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday, Tate noted, “Being with my family and eating.”