Every year, Equinox, a local nonprofit, makes a Thanksgiving dinner to give to over 10,000 families in Albany that otherwise wouldn’t have dinner on Thanksgiving. From Nov. 18-20, 2018, over 30 Siena students and Siena community members took the time to volunteer to prep the meal. They were a part of 3,600 volunteers that helped make this happen.
The Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner began nearly 50 years ago for a group of 200 college students that were unable to make it home for the holidays and, according to the Equinox website, it has evolved and continued ever since. Every year, the Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner truly showcases how unified the Albany community can be. According to the Equinox website, the dinner is funded entirely by generous donations from local businesses, civic groups and private citizens. Cash, food, trucks, tables and chairs, cell phones, serving dishes, linens, aprons, soap, towels and advertising are matched by the valuable help of our volunteers. All surplus donations are used to assist needy families throughout the year.
There is one Siena staff member who has made volunteering at the Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner an annual tradition. Jami Cotler, a computer science professor, has participated in Equinox for the last seven years. She and her son take part in the event together. When asked about her participation in Equinox, Dr. Cotler said, “I have participated in Equinox for the past seven years with my son who is now a Siena student.” She and her son have done a variety of activities over the years. Dr. Cotler continued, “We have participated in a different part of the holiday dinner preparation each year from cooking and slicing the turkey, cutting vegetables, making cranberry sauce containers to this year making stuffing.”
The Equinox Thanksgiving event is a great way to give back over the holidays and keep our community members in mind that are less fortunate. The event has grown so much and is an asset to our community. When asked about the value of the event, Cotler said, “It is something we look forward to doing every year before Thanksgiving. It is fun to meet people from other organizations and to be a small part of something so large that helps many people.” Even though she has done it for so long, Cotler described that she is still impressed by the event and would recommend participation to anyone.
To participate in next year’s event, keep a lookout for Digest posts and posters from the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy!