November 26, 2013 12:00PM
Many international students at Pittsburg State University will spend Thanksgiving thousands of miles from home this year, but one couple is making sure they are not without family.
“We may not be blood relatives, but I feel like we are all family,” said Cathy Lee Arcuino, Pitt State’s director of international programs and services.
Arcuino and her boyfriend, Bill Daneke, owner of Bill's Cycle just south of Pittsburg, will host their fifth Thanksgiving Bash on Thursday, Nov. 28. More than 120 people, including 90 international students, are expected to attend. The meal will begin around 3 p.m.
“Approximately 20 different countries will be represented this year, which is just awesome to think about,” Arcuino said. “More importantly, though, is that these students will have a lovely Thanksgiving with their friends. It’s a lot of work, but it’s always beyond worth it.”
Since its inception, the event has garnered much attention in the community. Now, Arcuino said, many in the community are volunteering to support it.
“I was in Big Ben’s BBQ a couple of times recently, and I started chatting with the owner about having to get the turkeys for our dinner,” she said. “He turned around and said, ‘Don’t worry about the turkeys. We’ve got you covered.’ It was unbelievable.”
Ben Weaver, owner of Big Ben’s BBQ on south Broadway, said he’ll smoke and donate between 90 and 100 pounds of turkey for the event.
“It’s the least we could do for such a wonderful event,” he said. “Cathy Lee and Bill open their home for so many people, and this is just one small way we’d like to help with that.”
Arcuino said others in the community have also stepped forward to donate side dishes and desserts.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to think about people who take the time and effort to help us with this, especially since they aren’t even coming,” she said. “They’re stepping up for the students, for people they’ve never met. It means so much to me and everyone who is a part of this.”