Thanksgiving is often associated with feelings of comfort and gratitude as students return home to spend time with loved ones.
Unfortunately, some students are unable to return home for Thanksgiving for various reasons. Whether they are scheduled to work, would rather visit home for Christmas, have athletic games to play in, or call another country their home, going home is not always possible.
For those students who will be staying in St. George for the holidays, Utah Tech University has alternatives for students wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving.
In a survey created by Ali Threet, assistant vice president and dean of students, she has outlined different alternatives students can participate in.
Thanksgiving with staff and faculty
Students can celebrate Thanksgiving by being hosted by a Utah Tech staff or faculty member. With this alternative, students spend the day with their hostee and enjoy Thanksgiving festivities and food.
Michael Lacourse, the provost and vice president of academic affairs, hosted a student last year for Thanksgiving. Through this experience, Lacourse and his family were able to learn more about the student and his educational aspirations and career goals.
“I really enjoy Thanksgiving, so hosting a student was a really fun experience,” Lacourse said. “As a student and being able to go to somebody’s home locally to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal is a great opportunity.”
A faculty or staff member will be randomly paired with one or more students, and ride accommodations can be made for students without vehicles.
“Students are encouraged and invited to go spend Thanksgiving in the home of a faculty or staff member because it’s a great way for people to be able to bond and feel like they have community, even if they’re not from St. George,” Threet said. “That’s why other faculty and staff sign up because if we have the ability to do it, and we can bless other’s lives, why wouldn’t we?”
The Blazer Pantry and other food alternatives
The Blazer Pantry, located in the Browning Learning Resource Center, will be open Nov. 20 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Nov. 21 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. It will be closed for the remainder of the week, so Dru Bottoms, the director of the Student Resource Center, hopes to make prior arrangements for the students who visit the pantry often.
Bottoms works with community donors and partners who provide food donations to the pantry. For Thanksgiving week, there will be meal kits and heated meals provided by the community. There will also be holiday food items that can ordered for pickup Nov. 20 or Nov. 21.
“We have wonderful community donors that are willing to donate to us, so we do our best to get it out to all students because we don’t want them to go hungry,” Bottoms said.
Because campus dining and the pantry will be closed for Thanksgiving break, students can purchase meal vouchers at the information desk in the Gardner Student Center with their meal plan.
Campus View Suites Thanksgiving event
Of the people working to create these alternatives for students, Christian Hildebrandt, the assistant vice president of campus life and wellness, is working with campus housing to provide an event for students to participate in on Thanksgiving in the Campus View Suites housing complexes.
For both on-campus and off-campus students, Threet said she wants students to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with other students by enjoying many different holiday festivities.
“We also would like to provide the food because we want people to be able to eat over the holidays and to feel like it’s a special time and just have that break before they go into finals,” Threet said.
If you are looking to celebrate Thanksgiving and are unable to return home for the holidays, consider filling out the survey before Nov. 21 so the staff and faculty can plan accordingly to the needs of the student body. Although Thanksgiving might not be celebrated in the comfort of your home this year, it can still be celebrated through the comfort of other staff, faculty and students at Utah Tech.