Thanksgiving celebrations, food drives bring Penn State communities together

Each year, Penn State students, faculty and staff get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, learn about traditions and create their own. Here is a look at the food drives and dinners at Penn State locations around the state.

Penn State Lehigh Valley

Penn State Lehigh Valley Student Life held its annual Thanksgiving food drive, providing complete Thanksgiving meals for every family served by the Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown. 

The effort raised more than $1,300 and was able to provide a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 47 families with about $200 left over to donate directly to the shelter.

“We work with the Sixth Street Shelter because they impact so many lives, and through this drive we are able to make a difference in the lives of its residents. For most families, the donations wind up being more than a Thanksgiving meal; sometimes there is enough to provide food for over a week. It represents hope for the families,” said Leyna Belinsky, coordinator of student life at Penn State Lehigh Valley

The campus surpassed its goal of raising $1,000 to purchase the perishable items for each meal: turkey, rolls and pie. Organizers also accepted stuffing, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, gravy and juice. 

Penn State Brandywine

The Thursday before Thanksgiving, Penn State Brandywine hosted its first “Thanksgiving Feast,” an event that brought together more than 75 students, faculty and staff for a Thanksgiving-themed lunch during the campus’ common hour. 

For many international students who attended the lunch, it was their very first American Thanksgiving meal. Students from 19 different countries, including China, Bangladesh, Mexico and India, sat across the table from one another and shared what they are thankful for this holiday season while enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving day meal. 

Pennsylvania College of Technology

Penn College’s third annual "Stuff the Truck" food drive brought in more than 1,300 nonperishable items to benefit the Williamsport Salvation Army Food Pantry.

Students Making a Contribution, the Office for Diversity and Community Engagement and Pepsi partnered to sponsor the event, which will help local families in need this Thanksgiving. Participants were able to load their items into the Pepsi truck in the Bush Campus Center Loop on Tuesday and enjoy cider in the building’s lobby.

Student organizations brought in 941 items, according to Sara H. Ousby, director of diversity and community engagement. Omega Delta Sigma, the national veterans fraternity, was the top organizational donor with 376 items, winning a bowling night for its members. Other campus groups that donated to the cause were Cru, Baja SAE, Health Information Association, Students of Musical Development, Construction Management Association, Phi Theta Kappa, Penn College Classic Cruisers, American Institute of Architecture Students, PCT 4×4 Club, Legal Society, Diesel Performance Club, Student Government Association and the Association for Computing Machinery. Wildcat student-athletes also participated with a sizable donation.

Global Programs

Penn State Global Programs' Global Student Engagement Team (GSET) and its sponsored student office hosted a Thanksgiving dinner as a way to introduce international students to the traditional holiday. The event, held Nov. 16 at the Nittany Lion Inn, was open to participants in the Foundations in Global Engagement (FiGE) and international sponsored students.

"Even at a time when international tensions are escalating, the students, who represent all corners of the globe, made a conscious choice to gather, give thanks and break bread while enjoying the peaceful company of each other. For that, I am truly grateful," said Bonnie Cohen, interim student engagement coordinator for GSET.

Along with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the attendees learned the history and evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday and discussed Thanksgiving and similar traditions across cultures.

FiGE is the first phase of programming for first-year undergraduate, first-year graduate and new exchange or transfer students who wish to enrich their Penn State experience by developing multinational relationships.

Penn State Berks

The Penn State Berks Multicultural Office held a Thanksgiving dinner to introduce international students to the traditional holiday Nov. 10 in the Perkins Student Center multipurpose room.

The event, open to Penn State Berks students, faculty and staff, featured a traditional Thanksgiving meal, prepared by Penn State Berks Food Services. International students learned about the history and evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, and they watched a video presentation by Penn State Berks international mentors. In addition, music was provided by Penn State alumnus Rodney Miller.

Penn State Berks currently has 81 international students. 

Another event at Penn State Berks was the Police Athletic League Thanksgiving Dinner, held Nov. 19. The event has become a tradition for Penn State Berks students. Students groups, including the dance and step teams, performed. Students did crafts with Olivet Boys & Girls Club youths, and later served them Thanksgiving dinner.

Penn State York

Some international students at Penn State York will be sharing a Thanksgiving meal with Sheri Yoder, director of International Student Services at Penn State York, and her family. Yoder is opening her home to a small group of Penn State York international students and some recent graduates who are still in the area.

"Our goal is to provide a place for students who will remain in York during the break," Yoder said

This isn't the first time Yoder and other members of the faculty and staff have included international students in their holiday celebrations. Penn State York has 145 international students this fall.