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Food, fellowship and family at CLC: Thanksgiving dinner brings campus together

Central Lakes College President Hara Charlier joins Hannah Aldrich and other Student Life members to dish up a Thanksgiving meal to students, staff and faculty during a campus-wide Thanksgiving meal Monday, Nov. 19, at the Brainerd campus. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Everyone was family Monday, Nov. 20, at Central Lakes College.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie brought students, staff and faculty together for a campus-wide Thanksgiving dinner in Brainerd.

"What we're trying to do with this is show that no matter if your family is away, CLC is going to be your family," Student Life Center president Katelyn Waytashek said, noting not all students get to make it home for the holiday. "Sometimes over the Thanksgiving holiday, they don't get the big Thanksgiving meal like everybody else gets with their family, so we try to incorporate that here at CLC."

College President Hara Charlier joined Student Life members in the cafeteria Monday, dishing out food and kind words to hungry students and instructors.

"I think it's a good way to show what the Student Life can do and showing that we want to help students out as much as we can," Student Life member Hannah Aldrich said while scooping up mashed potatoes. "We just want to show that we're here as one big family for everybody."

That fellowship is exactly what the holiday is about for Jamaican student Leon Lyttle, who is experiencing his second Thanksgiving in the U.S.

"It's not about the food for me. It's about the gathering, talking to different people, meeting different people," Lyttle said. "I like it here."

For others, the day's festivities are about thinking of their peers who might not otherwise get a turkey dinner this year, whether the reason be distance, budget constraints or something else.

"I personally think it's awesome, especially for people who can't afford to have Thanksgiving dinner, or they have other things their money goes toward," first-year student Alex Kahl said. "And I really think it's just awesome even for those who can afford it that they get to come together and have all this great food."

Welding instructor David Otto sat down to the meal with two of his colleagues and thought of those who don't get to see their families this week.

"A lot of us take it for granted that we have places to go, but not everybody here does," he said. "It's a good culture, community-building event. Sometimes it's a little simple plate of food that means a lot."

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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