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State university feeds the hungry

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There are only 16,000 people in the city of Ada, Okla. But every year hundreds of residents volunteer to help those less fortunate. This true spirit of giving is what's making a difference in Ada.

For this Thanksgiving dinner, hundreds showed up to serve turkey and the trimmings to nearly 4,000 people at the Pontotoc County Agriplex. And for those that could not make it to the fairgrounds, but still needed the food, volunteers dropped off meals at people's homes.

"I really think that we should help other people and give them things, so they can have something to be thankful for," said Patrick Tadlock, a volunteer.

The Human Resource Club at East Central University, along with several other groups, has organized these turkey dinners for the last 29 years. The groups served out about 40 turkeys, 40 hams, eight gallons of gravy, nine pounds of stuffing, and what seemed like endless amounts of mashed potatoes.

"ECU is the only public university that requires all of its entering students to engage in service learning. So they get this type of community service activities throughout their educational experience," said Richard Rafes, president of East Central University.

Together with the students, community members said the annual dinner has turned into something very special. Not simply a place to feed those who are hungry, it's a place where the entire community comes together to kick off the holiday season. All of these people make a difference in each other's lives-whether they're the ones who were serving, or being served.

"I heard from one of our students that said, ‘You know a little girl said to me thank you so much for this food.' And it really brought almost a tear to her eyes, because it was so meaningful to her to hear that," said Rafes.

Originally aired 11-21-07

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