What is a Thanksgiving dinner without cranberries and green beans? Thanks to students from Northside ISD’s Learning Tree After-School Enrichment Program there will be enough cranberries and green beans for the 25,000 guests expected at the 40th annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner this year.
Students accepted the challenge to be the sole provider of cranberries for the annual event, and this year the organization asked them to help collect canned green beans too. The Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner is one of the largest Thanksgiving events in the country. According to Patricia Jimenez, daughter of the late Raul Jimenez, it takes 4,688 pounds (or 75,008 ounces) of cranberry sauce and 6,250 pounds of green beans to feed that many people.
The students’ goal was to collect 7,000 cans of cranberries and 3,000 cans of green beans during the month of October. Seventy-nine Learning Tree sites and all twenty Club LT sites held a can drive to collect cans from students, families, and school staff. When all the cans were counted, a whopping 12,783 cans of cranberries and 5,851 cans of green beans had been collected, a total of eight tons of food.
In the cranberry canned drive contest, Kallison Elementary School took home first place in the large program category by collecting 570 cans, McAndrew Elementary School (two-time winners) took home first place in the medium program category by collecting 769 cans, and Villarreal Elementary School took home first place in the small program category by collecting 750 cans.
In addition, students made hundreds of placemats and centerpieces that will decorate the tables at the Convention Center where the citywide dinner takes place each year. Several Learning Tree families also plan to volunteer at the event on Thanksgiving Day.