, Muskogee, OK

November 19, 2013

Students to help with dinner

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— What started as a few students helping others has grown into a Thanksgiving event students anticipate, a teacher says.

Muskogee High School students will join other volunteers Saturday for the seventh annual Unity in the Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Clothing Giveaway. The clothing giveaway begins at 3 p.m. followed by a Thanksgiving dinner at 5 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Entertainment will be provided by MHS students and local groups.

MHS math teacher Andrae Freeman, who helped originate the program, said about 250 people came to last year’s event. More are expected this year.

He said he was inspired by civil rights activist Hosea Williams in Atlanta.

“He always did a Thanksgiving dinner downtown,” Freeman said.

Freeman said he and another teacher started a Muskogee Thanksgiving program seven years ago with “a handful of students.”

“Now it’s something everyone else is looking forward to,” he said. “My students say ‘Mr. Freeman, are you doing the Thanksgiving thing this year.’”

MHS junior Miranda Wood said she remembers helping with the clothing drive a few years ago. She said she looks forward to helping again this year.

“I like volunteering and helping others,” Wood said. “I like giving back to the community.”

Freeman said he remembers as many as 40 students helping one year.

“They’re performing or serving,” Freeman said.

Other people also volunteer to help, he said.

Shenelle Freeman said there also will be door prizes from various businesses at the event.

She said the dinner and the clothing are donated.

“We’ve had people bringing stuff as they are looking through the clothes,” Shenelle Freeman said. “We just sort of hang them up there.”

She said teachers have donated food and clothing.

She said one teacher, “always buys five turkeys and five hams.”

Andrae Freeman said MHS advocacy groups helped spur student interest in the program. He said advocacy groups involves MHS staff members meeting with groups of students one morning each week.

“A lot of teachers in the advocacy groups support the program,” he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Unity in the Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Clothing Giveaway.

WHEN: Clothing giveaway, 3 p.m. Saturday; dinner and entertainment, 5 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: First Presbyterian Church, 500 W. Broadway.

You can help

To donate clothes or help at Unity in the Community call Andrae Freeman at (918) 685-0389 or Shenelle Freeman at (918) 816-9349.