Thanksgiving dinnerDuring the holidays a lot of people talk about giving but how many of us actually put our words into action?

However, there are people right in our neighborhood taking action to provide a Thanksgiving meal to those that have made Dallas their new home. A group of locals have stepped out this Thursday to help around 300 refugees from more than 30 location across the world during the Gateway of Grace Thanksgiving lunch.

The sixth annual event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., took place at St. John’s Church in Lakewood and created a place for families and individuals to experience both kindness and good food.

Interestingly enough, the outreach organization is headed up by Samira Page, who first came to the U.S. as a political refugee and now serves as the director. In an email to the Advocate, Page recalls how difficult holidays were for her and her family when they first came to the U.S. She describes herself as being “lonely and homesick.” It was this experience that led her to create a place where refugees could experience holiday celebrations and the joy that comes with them.

[fbvideo link=”” width=”400″ height=”500″ onlyvideo=”1″]

“Thanksgiving is a specifically American holiday and for many of the refugees in attendance, the first Thanksgiving,” Page writes. “Reaching refugees during this season helps them feel that they belong, just as the first pilgrims and Puritans had hoped for.”

This year’s meal started out with a prayer and a short reminder of the history of Thanksgiving and its role within the country. Along with a meal, attendees were presented with gift cards, gift baskets and various raffle prizes.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services, more than 14,000 people from 44 countries were served by the Texas Refugee Resettlement Program in 2010.

These are large numbers but looking around the room on Thanksgiving Day gave a sense of hope that there was something being done. And though some might think it was just a meal it was more—it was a chance to see the good in people and smile at the joy some food and company can bring.

“Belonging is essential to healing, integration, and flourishment as people who are loved by God and Christians,” Page explained. “And, this holiday will teach refugees the heart attitude of Americans toward life which is thankfulness to God for the many blessings they have including living in freedom.”

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.