More than 500 at Wright State celebrate Thanksgiving away from home

Students load up plates full of food at Raidersgiving at Wright State. The event is an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration that started on campus in 2012. SUBMITTED

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Students load up plates full of food at Raidersgiving at Wright State. The event is an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration that started on campus in 2012. SUBMITTED

As most college students head home this week for Thanksgiving, some in the Dayton area will stay put and celebrate together.

Students and community members at Wright State University will gather Thursday for a meal that has grown from around two-dozen people to more than 500 in the last six years.

“Raidersgiving,” as its called, is expected to welcome more than 500 people noon to 2 p.m. in the McLin Gym of the Nutter Center. The free meal typically consists of turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans along with halal options and Indian food.

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“It’s kind of a nice event that I think just makes the students welcome, makes them feel at home,” said Craig This, director of Wright State’s office of institutional research who organizes the annual event. “There’s this one place they can go and it still feels like home.”

People who attend the event can enter a raffle and play games, according to the university. Attendees can also help the university get a head start on the winter holidays by giving food to Wright State’s student food pantry, donating a pair of shoes to Samaritan’s Feet or making a card for Dayton Children’s hospital patients.

What has become an annual tradition at Wright State started in 2012 when the university switched from quarters to semesters. The switch meant that for the first time, classes would still be in session during Thanksgiving, This said.

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The students who attend the school’s free Thanksgiving Day meal are typically international students or out-of-state students who “just aren’t able to get home for the holiday,” This said.

To help fund “Raidersgiving,” Wright State has launched a website that allows people to donate $10 to cover the cost of a meal for one person.

Every year, students and community members who come for the free meal and company write a thank you note to donors on a sign. One year, This said he saw a note from a student saying “Thanks for making me a priority today.”

“For us, that’s why you do it,” This said. “No Raider eats alone. That pretty much sums it up for me.”

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