Smiles and good cheer filled the Murray-Herrick Campus Center ballroom at the annual holiday dinner for the homeless Saturday night. The two-hour dinner was hosted by Volunteers In Action and was sponsored by STAR.
Buses transported about 125 guests from the Listening House and the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul.
One guest said she appreciated that St. Thomas hosts this event.
“I like that it gets everybody together, and gets them socializing. It’s a fun event,” she said. “I really like coming here.”
Another guest said “If I could come back every year, I would.”
The Rev. Erich Rutten spoke at the start of the the evening and said a prayer before the dinner.
Each guest got a Christmas card and a pair of gloves. An ornament was placed at every seat for the guests, who wrote their favorite Christmas memory, a Christmas wish or what they are thankful for on the ornament. The guests hung their ornaments on the Christmas tree and received a gift bag courtesy of Personal Counseling. A raffle was also held for prizes such as gift cards and blankets.
The Gospel Choir sung for the event, and the music was provided by 2008 Tommie Award winner Dejen Tesfagiorgis and his band.
More than 100 volunteers decorated, cooked and served food, talked with guests and helped run the dinner, which featured turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and stuffing.
Senior Adam Baker, one of the event coordinators, said the dinner is a success every year.
“Something special about this year is that I feel like we have a lot more students involved in the event, which is great,” Baker said.
Volunteer Amber Schoenecker said she likes helping the homeless.
“I like how happy they are and how grateful they are,” volunteer Amber Schoenecker said. “They are all really talkative and super-friendly.”
Baker has been involved in the event for a couple years now, and he enjoys being part of the events.
“It is always a very rewarding experience,” Baker said. “Everyone is always excited to be here.”
Dan Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.