San Antonio’s first in-person Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner since 2019 draws thousands to dine or volunteer

More than 4,000 people contributed to making the annual feast possible as an in-person event for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

SAN ANTONIO — Carla Starks was among the thousands of people who enjoyed a feast and festivities during the 43rd Annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday.

“It’s awesome. I love to dance, I love the music and I love the opportunity to share a meal with the family,” Starks said while sitting alongside her mom and dad. 

The Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner returned in person for the first time since 2019 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. 

In between the live musical performances, Starks found it tricky deciding which dish satisfied her taste palate the most. 

“Cranberry and pie,” she decided, “but I loved the stuffing too. so it’s everything.”

Tomas Guadiano took the bus to the convention center craving a warm Thanksgiving meal. It’s a moment he’s been longing for since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“I’ve been coming every year except the pandemic years,” Guadiano said.

Guadiano heard about the nationwide turkey shortage, but he didn’t notice any such shortage affecting the Jimenez dinner. 

“Fortunately, there was enough to feed all these people here, and I’m glad. Thank you, Jesus,” Guadiano said.

Betsy Neiswander and family were celebrating Thanksgiving by giving back. 

“I couldn’t be happier that we’re back here (and) get to be with the people. We did plating today, which was amazing,” Neiswander said. “I work downtown, so I see people all the time in need, and I’m so happy to be a part of this.”  

Rick Valdez expressed his gratitude for life, the Lord and fellowship. 

“Appreciate the food, the music, pictures, the friendliness, the people, being able to be together and giving thanks to God,” Valdez said.

An army of more than 4,000 volunteers contributed to making the free event a reality, with the help of RK Group and presenting sponsor Walmart.

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