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Oakland storekeeper unites neighbors, celebrates Thanksgiving as cultural cornucopia

OAKLAND — The Alawdi household continued their custom of serving their group in Oakland’s Dimond District for the twentieth time on Thursday with a scorching Thanksgiving meal. The celebration brings individuals of all backgrounds collectively for a complimentary dinner of delicacies from all over the world’s cultures.

“This is a day we give back,” stated Farouq Alawdi, one of many homeowners of two Star Market. “The spirit and vibe is there, the community spirit, the spirit of giving.”

Alawdi’s household is initially from Yemen. He noticed a chance to embrace the teachings of their religion with Thanksgiving of their new residence. By taking with them what they’ve discovered and celebrated every year in the course of the holy month of Ramadan, they’ve discovered a connection to a brand new custom they’ve been nurturing for twenty years.

“It’s part of life, man, to give back and do what you do,” stated Joseph Kearse, a volunteer who has been providing his expertise as knowledgeable chef for eight years. “Each year more and more people and more volunteers from all walks of life – different nationalities, different backgrounds, different religions – get involved and this day brings us all together, which is a beautiful thing.”

People started queuing whereas a group of volunteers made closing preparations within the grocery and liquor retailer car parking zone on Thursday. Those who’ve tasted the meals earlier than have pledged to come back again this yr. Dishes from all over the world are served together with turkey and a standard Thanksgiving facet dish. In addition to the dinner, there might be music and meals and clothes donations for assortment.

“I look forward to it every year. This year I actually had to come over and be like, ‘Are you going to do it this year?'” Wes Clark stated. After queuing and taking a seat at one of many communal tables together with his canine, Jack, he loved a full plate. “It’s good. It’s a lot.”

The occasion began out as a a lot smaller gathering of about 50 individuals the primary yr. This Thanksgiving they’ve 200 volunteers offering practically 1,000 servings.

“It’s a family and community event, everyone ends up raising a different person,” stated Aleja Rambonga, volunteer coordinator, who has been a part of the group for 10 years.

She leads a group that begins planning as early as November and begins getting ready meals on the Saturday earlier than Thanksgiving.

The Alawdi household opened their enterprise in 1985 and stay grateful for the help of their group that has saved them in enterprise. Even by means of robust instances just like the pandemic and private tragedies just like the lack of Farouq’s mom final month, they’ve saved this celebration going.

“We wouldn’t be here without the community,” Alawdi stated.

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