No one left behind on Thanksgiving: Cedarville Student starts annual tradition to make the holidays special

By Isabella Agnello

With the stress of school, Thanksgiving is a highly anticipated day for college students as many rush home to enjoy the holiday eating, relaxing and spending time with family and friends.  However, some students live across or outside of the country who do not have that opportunity.

Joshua Weber, a junior Civil Engineer major at Cedarville University, extended a broad invitation to all students staying on campus to join his family on Thanksgiving for a night of food, fun and fellowship.

Weber and his sister hail from New York, but during the school year they live with their grandmother fifteen minutes from campus in Springfield, Ohio. Due to scheduling conflicts, Weber and his sister were unable to fly home, so his parents flew to Ohio instead to spend Thanksgiving together.

It was then that Weber had an idea.

“I know a lot of people here who are tired of Chuck’s,” Weber said.  “Over Thanksgiving Break there are a lot of people who sit lonely, so I thought I would be able to combine home-cooking with fixing loneliness.”

He talked to and convinced his parents to open up their family’s Thanksgiving meal to students unable to travel home.

Weber posted the advertisement on Cedarville Classifieds, hoping that it would gain traction.  Though it got hundreds of views, only a few students signed up for the event.  On Thanksgiving, four students showed up to the house: Weber’s friends and two girls who heard about the event from the Classifieds ad.

One of the girls, Abigail Whittaker, is a freshman Psychology major from Oregon.  She shared a part of her family’s traditional Thanksgiving meal with the motley crew by bringing a corn casserole.

Like a traditional family Thanksgiving, the adults sat at one table while the students sat at another to get to know one another better.

Whittaker said, “We enjoyed the meal, we had a great time, lots of laughter and whatnot.”

After dinner, the group played “Apples-to-Apples: Bible Edition” and turned on Christmas music while engaging in conversation.

“I feel like it went really, really well,” Whittaker said.  “I felt comfortable, I had a good time.  And it was not super awkward once I started to get to know people.”

After reflecting on the way the evening turned out, Weber is ready to host the event again.

“I was able to help my family set up, and help host people, and that helped teach me how to serve other people.”

Whittaker is uncertain about what future Thanksgivings will look like for her, but she encourages others to come to Weber’s now annual event.

“I would totally tell other students, especially freshmen if they’re not going home, to consider it,” Whittaker said.  “It’s a great way to get to know other students on or off campus, and to be able to not be alone on Thanksgiving.”

Bella Agnello is a freshman Journalism major.  She enjoys thrifting, writing poetry, and reading classic Russian literature.

*photo provided by Joshua Weber

1 Reply to "No one left behind on Thanksgiving: Cedarville Student starts annual tradition to make the holidays special"

  • comment-avatar
    Mary Stec December 1, 2023 (5:34 pm)

    I love this story of friendship, generosity and community. Beautiful idea and looks like everyone really enjoyed themselves.
    Great idea and certainly could be an annual event.