Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Binghamton High students to host Thanksgiving dinner for thousands

By George Basler •gbasler@gannett.com • November 22, 2010, 10:05 pm

BINGHAMTON -- An expected crowd of 2,000 people will fill the Binghamton High School cafeteria Thursday, and they won't be thinking about tests, homework and study halls. They'll be thinking about turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

Binghamton High students Claudia Kotchick and Harry Kammerma get ready for Thursday's Thanksgiving Dinner at the high school. Students have been organizing the dinner, which serves thousands, for 16 years. (GEORGE BASLER / Staff Photo)

For the 16th straight year, BHS students will serve a Thanksgiving dinner for the community. The event has grown into one of the largest annual holiday gatherings and a source of pride for those at the high school.

"The dinner is a staple of the good things that come out of Binghamton High," said senior Claudia Kotchick, 17, president of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society and this year's chairwoman.

Approximately 300 students, faculty and staff have volunteered to spend part of Thursday at the school, organizers said. Students and cafeteria staff will begin preparing the meals Wednesday.

In addition to dinners served at the school, community residents will deliver more than 2,000 meals to people at their residences.

The dinner served about 3,200 people last year, and the numbers are expected to be higher this year because of the economy, said Susan Phelps, a social studies teacher who is adviser to the National Honor Society.

Children will also receive a free book and toy but, unlike past years, the dinner will not feature a coat giveaway, organizers said. That had to be canceled because of concerns about bed bugs. In its place, students in the district's various schools have collected food and personal care items for Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

While a Thanksgiving meal is something that can be taken for granted, Thursday's event "makes you realize not everyone is so lucky," said junior Harry Kammerman, co-chairman of the serving committee.

Putting it on is fun, he added.

Money for the dinner comes from donations and student fundraising.


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