Associated Students, Inc., along with other Fresno State students, sponsored and served a Thanksgiving-themed dinner Thursday night for children and other members of the community at the Wesley United Methodist Church.
The church, located on Barstow and N 4th streets, hosts the program Basecamp, which serves dinner every Thursday in the Fireside Room. This is the first year that ASI has sponsored its Thanksgiving dinner.
“Basecamp is a really good way to connect with the community,” said Melissa Ellis, ASI community affairs coordinator. “It’s also a really good way to bring the community together and make them more united. It definitely gives them a sense of relief because they always have this meal to rely on.”
The dinner consisted of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and a slice of pie for dessert. ASI purchased six turkeys, 36 cans of green beans and 12 pies, Ellis said, as well as the rest of the meal items.
The event benefits the entire El Dorado Park Community. The children who attend the El Dorado Park Boys and Girls Club are served at 5 p.m. The rest of the community is welcome at 5:30 p.m.
The dinners last from August through May, said Ellis, with a breakfast available during the summer months. Student involvement lasts year-round. Typically, members of the church or organizations donate the meals and serve roughly 150 people.
The meals typically vary by week, Ellis said. Those who prepare the meals try to provide variety along with nutrition. The program tries to teach the younger generation how to build a balanced meal, Ellis said.
ASI Sen. Lucas Lundy helps organize Basecamp regularly, said ASI President Arthur Montejano. ASI has been involved with the organization for approximately a year. Between four and eight students will volunteer their time every week, however 20 were present during Thursday’s event.
Groups of church members prepare the meal and students come every week to help set up, serve and clean. Volunteers are typically through Greek organizations on campus, Ellis said, though students looking to help and connect with others are common as well.
Scott Long, an alumni member of Theta Chi and student at Fresno State, said the experience has always been a very positive one for him.
“It’s still really important to help out the community,” Long said. “No matter if you’re part of an organization or not, it’s still really helpful to help out. It makes me feel good.”
Vickie Healy, the pastor of the church, said the church has been hosting Basecamp for six years. The event seems to be having a positive effect on the community, Healy said.
“I think people view Wesley now as a place that they can trust and they know that we’re on their side,” Healy said. “We feel much more connected to our neighbors. We know them by name and face.”
Students who are interested in volunteering are always welcome, Healy said, mentioning that volunteers are also welcome to a meal. Every student that has volunteered has had a good experience, Healy said, and often come back to volunteer outside of their organization.
If students are interested in donating their time to the program, they can contact Ellis at ASI_COS@csufresno.edu or attend a Thursday event at 4:30 p.m.