A moment to set your mobile device down and break bread together with your community. That’s what 13-year-old local K’lynn Jackman and others took away as they sat beside one another for the city of Santa Clarita’s 19th annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner on Monday evening.
“It’s been wonderful seeing everyone come together and laughing and mingling and getting to know each other and finally doing something without our phones and actually communicate,” said Jackman.
She was accompanied by an estimated 500 Santa Claritans who stopped by the Newhall Community Center for a warm, traditional meal served by neighbors, community center volunteers and local dignitaries.
With aprons on and utensils in hands, City Council members like Mayor Laurene Weste, Bill Miranda and Cameron Smyth spent the evening serving members of the community who made up a line that extended far out into the center’s parking lot.
“I learned from my dad and mom the importance of giving back to a community and this is just one of the ways to do that, and you hope that the kids that come here see that,” said Smyth. “It really makes you feel good about your community, reinforces that we really live in a special place here in Santa Clarita.”
That’s how several community members felt, including Newhall resident Graciela Cruz, who walked just a short distance to the center with her three young children.
“I’ve been coming with my children for the past five years,” she said in Spanish. “We just come down and eat with neighbors and others we may not know. It just feels like dinner with one big family.”
After serving the Cruz family and several others, Councilman Miranda said, “This is our way of reaching out to them and saying, ‘Hey, we’re all part of the same city, the same community.’ None of us are too good or too famous to come down and serve you.”
Also serving as hosts were teenagers with the center’s iTeen program and city staff members, who informed attendees of services available to the public throughout the year.
“The long line just goes to show how important this event is for our community,” said Cynthia Muir, community services supervisor with the city. “And we want to let everyone know our service doesn’t just end here; we’re here year-round.”