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Friends revive Fairbanks community Thanksgiving dinner tradition

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 12:16 am | Updated: 12:07 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — With lots of prayer, love and food, friends of Glady’ce Austin revived one of Austin’s Thanksgiving traditions this year.

Austin is a former Clear Air Force Station cook, a beautician and a longtime member of Corinthian Baptist Church. The tradition of her annual Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner that is open to the entire community, goes back to 1983. During the past 10 years, the tradition has languished because Austin has been sick and unable to organize it. This year, her friends decided to bring it back.

“We love her and we don’t want the community to forget about her,” said Willie Young, a friend who helped organize and also sang in one of the choirs at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. “When she got sick, we just kind of stopped.”

Austin also has a knack for organizing and for soliciting local groups to contribute to the community dinner, said Young, who used some of the same solicitation letters Austin used to use to get help putting on this year’s dinner. With the help of several generous local businesses, unions and organizations, the community dinner was able to feed about 100 guests this year.

The dinner was held at the JP Jones Community Development Center, where volunteers cooked ham, turkey and all the fixings. Several groups, including the St. John Baptist Church and Lily of the Valley praise dance groups and the Prince Hall Masons Grand Choir, performed during the dinner ceremony.

Austin is housebound and was not able to attend the dinner, but she was honored during the ceremony. Her friends plan to bring her a plate of food and present her with a poster from the dinner.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.

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