To help celebrate the great American tradition of Thanksgiving with Philadelphia refugees, the Philadelphia Health Corps served at the Nationalities Service Center on one cold Saturday afternoon. The event was a buffet style dinner, complete with heaps of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and warm gravy to top it all off. Much of the food had been carted over from a local Presbyterian church, where two chefs had been cooking in a basement kitchen like their lives depended on it. The process was rough and hectic, involving boiling water, shouting, and many cups of coffee, but the results were delicious. Several Health Corps volunteers helped prepare and clean, while others struggled food down a busy street back to the Service Center, so that turkey and stuffing were always there for the next hungry mouth.
Back at the Service Center, a crowd of refugees had been forming. The air steamed with all the smells of a Thanksgiving feast mingled with the sounds of languages from around the world. Health Corps volunteers stood behind trays of food, armed with serving spoons, as a column of people readied their plates for a taste of American cuisine. The meat and vegetables disappeared quickly, though the candied yams remained mostly untouched, perhaps an acquired taste for a sweeter tooth. While the adults were still busy eating, the children participated in different activities like a cakewalk – a form of musical chairs played as dessert – and flipped through picture books that volunteers handed out. In the end, everyone left with high spirits, food in their stomachs, and a feeling that right now, giving every thanks to more peace and happiness, was a pretty good place to be. We felt that way too.