William & Mary

A partnership in gratitude

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William & Mary staff members were treated to a Thanksgiving dinner in the Sadler Center Nov. 19 by the members of the Ebony Expressions Gospel Choir and Sharpe Community Scholars Program.

A long tradition of the Gospel Choir, “Bridging the Gap” is a multicultural, multi-faith Thanksgiving that works to promote the appreciation of all students, faculty and staff at William & Mary.

This year's dinner was unique, however, due to the choral group's partnership with the Sharpe Community Scholars Program. Alpha Mansaray '16, a student coordinator for the Sharpe program as well as a past Sharpe Scholar, came up with the idea of having this year's event center on thanking the custodial and food service staff for all that they do at the university.

"Last year there was a woman who worked at the Caf; we called her Grandma Butler. We went bowling with her one day as she was leaving, and I started thinking about the people who work here," Mansaray 16 said, adding that he decided to create an event to appreciate them.

Mansaray recognized the cost for such an endeavor would be great, so he began to reach out to various clubs, organizations and Sodexo Catering for assistance. After hearing of Ebony Expressions’ Bridging the Gap event, Mansaray reached out to the choir, which enthusiastically agreed on the theme.

The dinner featured various performances, speeches and poetry from students with organizations including Ebony Expressions, One Accord and the Chinese Undergraduate Students Association.

"I was asked to present some spoken word," Alexis Foxworth '15 said. "I'm very excited,. Typically when I do spoken word, I let my emotions lead, so the way I recite it, the way I  practice is typically different from how I perform it in front of an audience."

Many of the custodial and food service staff members attended the event with their friends, families and colleagues. Each noted how much they appreciated the gratitude they were being shown.

"This is the first time anyone has ever did anything for us, so we really really appreciate it," one staff member said.