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ST. LOUIS – The Annie Malone Thanksgiving dinner is a chance for students at Emerson Therapeutic Academy in The Ville neighborhood to give thanks and get an early holiday meal. 

“We’re doing a Thanksgiving dinner here and at our crisis facility and at our residential treatment facility,” said Sara Lahman, CEO of Annie Malone Children & Family Services. “Then we’re doing a turkey giveaway; about 27 turkeys for the children and families we serve in our community.” 

The therapeutic school for students with individualized education plans also helps parents with continuing education classes. This is the 20th year for the Thanksgiving meal. 

“Make sure they’re well fed,” said Keisha Lee, chief operations officer of Annie Malone Children & Family Services. “We even have to-go plates for the families if they want to come up here and get them; we have that option. We’re giving away turkeys today. We have another program we invited families up to come eat with us and find food to go home. We had boxes of food giving away as well with the turkeys. So, we want to make sure our babies are fed while they’re away.”       

After lunch at the Annie Malone Children and Family Services headquarters, 20-pound turkeys and a box of Thanksgiving ingredients, courtesy of the Urban League, were handed out to parents. 

“When the city shut down and when places were boarded up and our families had nowhere to go to meet their basic needs,” said Lahman. “It was important for us to step in that gap. We are a crisis center. We stayed open. Our school stayed open. Because without these two meals a day, our children would likely be ones that would struggle.”