40 years of tradition: Free Thanksgiving community dinner

Photo by Joel R. Terrell

ST. GEORGE – As a foreign exchange student attending high school in America in the ’70s, Frank Habibian knew nothing of Thanksgiving or the significance it held for the American people. That changed when a local family invited him to their home for Thanksgiving dinner.

He was lonely and homesick, Habibian recalled, and the family who shared their Thanksgiving with him left a powerful impression, and added that the feeling of love he felt that day would never be forgotten.

Now, more than four decades later, Habibian continues the practices of sharing a Thanksgiving feast with others as he’s done for the last 40 years.

Habibian, who owns the Red Rock School in St. George, is holding Thanksgiving dinner for those who have nowhere else to go. But he said he did not want to take credit for the dinner. Instead, he gave credit to the community.

“The community of St. George is helping to get it done,” Habibian said.

Habibian related that each year there was a tsunami of volunteers and donations of food that flooded the kitchen at Red Rock School. He also said such service and generosity was priceless.

“People come out to serve others,” he said. “I can’t put a price on that.”

Habibian, who is an Armenian-Iranian immigrant, also expressed praise for what he described as America’s charitable nature.

“I’ve been almost everywhere,” he said. “Americans are the most generous.”

The Thanksgiving dinner is open to anyone who wants to volunteer or partake in the meal, though Habibian made particular mention of people who may have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving Day.

“You’re welcome here,” he said.

It is a message that echoes the experience that gave Habibian the idea for the now 40-year-old tradition.

The Thanksgiving dinner with be held on Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Red Rock School at 747 E. St. George Blvd. For additional information call 435-673-6111.

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Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent. 


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