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Attendance spikes at Burke Thanksgiving meal

Photo+Courtesy+of+Clay+Martinson
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Attendance spikes at Burke Thanksgiving meal

Photo Courtesy of Clay Martinson

Photo Courtesy of Clay Martinson

Photo Courtesy of Clay Martinson

Photo Courtesy of Clay Martinson

Rylie Curry, Staff Reporter

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Though he was able to go home this year for Thanksgiving, Josh Britt, director of media relations for the Student Government Association (SGA) and a sophomore majoring in economics and public relations, knows what it’s like to not be able to be with family on a holiday, because he’s from Oklahoma City.

To ensure all students had the opportunity to have a meal on Thanksgiving, the SGA held a Thanksgiving meal at Burke Dining Hall from noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 22 in partnership with Bama Dining, the office of Student Care and Well-Being and the Honors College for students who stayed on campus.

“It benefitted UA students tremendously and provided meals for kids who weren’t able to see family members over break, and that’s a really hard time,” Britt said. “I’ve dealt with that personally, not this year, but I’ve had holidays where I haven’t been able to see my family because I’m from out of state and that’s a really difficult thing to deal with and the fact that they’re able to be surrounded by their UA family, by their Tuscaloosa family and be able to have that Thanksgiving meal is really powerful and really comforting for those students.”

More than half of the students enrolled at The University of Alabama, 56.7 percent, are from out of state as of fall of 2018. As a result, some students were unable to return home for Thanksgiving and chose to stay on campus.

All students were welcomed at the dinner, and the food served was free to give everyone an opportunity to attend.

Attendance this year skyrocketed with a 400 percent increase from last year. About 50 students attended previously, and about 250 students attended this year.

“It was a really big success, and this is something that I think SGA, Bama Dining, the department of Care and Well Being and the Honors College are all going to continue to partner with and do every year for Thanksgiving,” said Clay Martinson, SGA vice president of Student Affairs and a junior majoring in history.

Martinson said the main purpose of having the dinner was to provide everyone a place to go for Thanksgiving.

“I go home for Thanksgiving, because I don’t live too far away, and I really enjoy being with my friends from back home and my family,” Martinson said. “I know that while we couldn’t get people’s families here, we could make sure that they were surrounded by friends and had a nice meal to eat on Thanksgiving.”

In addition to the usual turkey, ham and cranberry sauce, UA faculty and staff provided a variety of baked goods and desserts for students to take home.

Britt said he is hopeful that future administrations will continue to take on the task of putting on the event and serving students throughout the holidays.

Meredith Coleman, director of communications for SGA and a junior majoring in advertising, created a graphic for the event.

“When I heard about the success of the Thanksgiving dinner at Burke, I was incredibly happy,” Coleman said. “As an out-of-state student from California, I know the struggles of trying to get home for the holiday just to turn around and come back. Clay Martinson did an excellent job of planning this event, from coordination to execution, and it is just another great example of how SGA is focused on serving our peers.”

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Attendance spikes at Burke Thanksgiving meal