Rotary Club celebrates turkey day contribution

During their regularly scheduled meeting, Dickinson’s Rotary Club presented a $3,500 novelty check to Dickinson State University’s Heritage Foundation for the traditional community Thanksgiving dinner, which this year operated as a drive-thru in order to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 public health guidelines.

Mark Billings, president of Best Friend Mentoring Program and member of The Rotary Club, takes a photo of DSU Heritage Foundation receiving contributed funds for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

“We raised about $5,000 and that went towards the preparation and purchase of the food and we served almost 950 meals out of that,” Keith James, director of student life at Dickinson State University, said. “The cooking started at 4 a.m. and the final meal was distributed at about 1:45 p.m., so we went almost 9 hours...It was a long day, but a great day.”

The annual charitable event was co-sponsored by local business Blue 42 Sports Grille & Bar, along with local entities in the Campus Activity Board of Dickinson State University, Sodexo Dining Services and the Dickinson Rotary club.

“We are happy to be a partner of the community, the community supports DSU in so many ways so it's great to give back. Grateful to have so many students that stepped up to prepare, serve and distribute meals,” James said. “ Along with students, we had some of our athletic teams that sent their full teams to help with the community dinner ... that was great to see so much student support when so many of them are off from being on campus.”

Between those who assisted in making meals, boxing up the meals and distributing the meals, James estimates nearly 60 volunteers were involved in the humanitarian effort.

When presented with the check, DSU president Stephen Easton praised the student activities and their own contribution to the Thanksgiving community dinner.


“Part of our funds came from our Dickinson State University student activity fees. The campus activity fees are what we use to put on programs, so that money came from the students. They stepped up and approved that we could do that.”

This traditional event came with a twist this year through its drive-thru service and though there remains uncertainty about how the annual event will look next year, James was confident that no matter the circumstances the program will continue in some form or fashion.

“Hopefully next year we do this in our traditional format, and are back eating at the Perch restaurant on campus, but I can tell you that we will have a community Thanksgiving dinner again.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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