A group of churches in North Carolina is organizing a huge Thanksgiving Day meal that will bring together 10,000 Hispanics of different denominations.
In the kitchen at Queens University in Charlotte, executive chef Roberto Mendoza went over final details with his volunteers, who are preparing plates that they will distribute free to the dinner guests.
Mendoza told Efe that he has been working for a month on organizing the dinner, for which donations have been solicited from companies and individuals, but the last four days he has devoted to cooking.
"This week I could have enjoyed my vacation with my family, but I know the need of my Hispanic community on these dates, to receive a plate of food, to share with other people, and so I'm helping, and ... I thank God for my work, my family and all that this country has given me," said the Salvadoran.
"We've cooked about 400 turkeys, 600 pounds of pasta, 300 (pounds) of rice," said Mendoza, who has cooked for presidents, Hollywood artists and politicians and has worked in major hotels.
"One day I asked the Lord (to ensure) that I would never lack for food, and with this act of preparing food for others and donating my time, I'm seeking to teach the community of the need to cooperate and help one's neighbor," he said.
The idea for this huge dinner arose in 2009 when Pastor Danny Busquetts of the Latin Harvest Time Church in Mount Holly noted that many Latino families were spending this holiday away from their loved ones.
"We began getting the community together in the town of Gastonia, in the parking lot of the Compare Foods supermarket. We set 100 tables, organized a small festival, with the distribution of food, clothing, shoes, activities for the kids. At that time, 3,000 people came, and since then it's grown," Busquetts told Efe.
The celebration will be held simultaneously on Thursday in the cities of Gastonia and Charlotte and some 5,000 people are expected at each event. EFE