Project Share Hosts its 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner: It’s the First In-Person Dinner since 2019

Project Share Hosts its 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner: Its the First In-Person Dinner since 2019

Oscar Hayes, Managing Editor

After three years of its absence due to the pandemic, the Project Share Thanksgiving dinner is making a return. This dinner is an event unique to Hastings High School where over 800 homeless people from NYC are bused in and served a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. I was able to talk to Jeanne Newman, Founder of Share the Project, to learn more about the origins of Project Share and this dinner. 

Project Share started 35 years ago. Newman told me that she was at a point in her life where she knew she was in a “good and lucky place” and decided she wanted to give back to the community. 

“I had always volunteered as a kid because I think it’s so important,” Newman said. She then added that she began to volunteer again in New York City with a priest from Harlem. Newman said that those visits in the city back in the 80s really opened her eyes and was the driving force behind the creation of Project Share.

She started by simply doing clothing drives and similar charitable activities, but soon students suggested that she should participate in Midnight Runs. During Midnight Runs, a group travels to the city and gives away clothes, toiletries, and sandwiches out to the homeless. Newman said that she fell in love with these runs and now they have become a monthly staple at Project Share. (The next midnight run will take place on December 10th). 

After a year and a half of Runs, Newman said that she wanted a “deeper relationship” with the people on the street. “Sal, the head of the cafeteria, suggested we do a Thanksgiving dinner”. 

Newman described the first-ever Project Share Thanksgiving dinner as a “wonderful” experience. Compared to the dinners today, it was relatively small. There were 125 people from the streets , and Newman, along with other volunteers, sat down and dined with them. Newman described this dinner as a “moment of equity” that was “very powerful,” also adding that it was great to have a more intimate experience with the people she met on the Midnight Runs. 

This first dinner marked a now 33-year-long tradition that is one of the hallmarks of Hastings High School.

This is Share’s first in-person dinner in three years due to the pandemic. When asked about the dinner during the pandemic, Newman told me that finding a way to do it was “one of the hardest things [she] has ever done.”  She explained that it took nearly 7 and a half hours to deliver every Thanksgiving meal to the homeless. Despite the hardships, she was able to find “communities that I never knew existed,” making it a unique experience that she’ll never forget. 

Taking place on Tuesday the 22nd, this dinner will go back to the basics. Students have been working from morning to night for three straight days prepping food and setting up the Cochran Gym to make it look like a beautiful dining room. Many described it as looking like a wedding. 

In her closing remarks, Newman emphasized the importance of volunteer work whether it be for this dinner or for any other charitable event. She said that this event “allows people who don’t have this holiday to celebrate” and that it is truly “one of the best and most important events at Hastings High School.