Thanksgiving for a Cause

BY JENNY PAUL

More than 500 members of the Harvard Law School community turned out Wednesday to chow down on turkey, stuffing, pie, and other holiday fixings at the second annual Thanksgiving Dinner for a Cause, organized by the HLS Student Government.

This year’s event, which benefited relief efforts targeted at the aftermath of the July 2010 floods in Pakistan, was held in Ropes Gray and featured food from Restaurant Associates and donations from local restaurants, including Tommy Doyle’s and Pinocchio’s. The Dean of Students Office donated pies, and staff members showed up to serve slices to the students.

Students piled food high on their plates and found seats wherever they could – including the floor – to enjoy their meals.

“I’m thrilled,” Student Government President Jennifer Dein ’11 said of the turnout. “We definitely have more than enough food. I think that the only thing we don’t have enough of is seating, which is a good sign.”

All money raised from the event will go to the International Rescue Committee and will be earmarked for flood relief in Pakistan. Last year’s event raised money to buy items for U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, a cause Dein chose herself. This year, Student Government sent out a list of five possible charities for the student body to pick one to support and get more involved as a community, Dein said. Supporting the flood relief efforts “won by a landslide,” she said.

Dein said Student Government raised $5,000 for flood relief from ticket sales alone. She also expected to raise a “good amount” of money from raffle ticket sales. Many local businesses, including BerryLine, J.P Licks, and Cambridge Common donated gift certificates for the raffle.

Stephen Henrick ’12 said he attended the event because it supported a really great cause and served up a really great meal.

“So it’s double the pleasure, double the fun,” Henrick said, although he noted that more food vendors participated last year. “This year was a more limited selection, but it was still good.”

Dean Martha Minow welcomed students at the beginning of the dinner, urging students, “If you’ve had enough to eat, go back and get more!” Her tone grew more somber as she described the destruction caused by the flooding in Pakistan. More than 2,000 people were killed in the flooding, and 20 million more were displaced because of the destruction, she said.

“The fact that this occasion can occur – you can all have a good time and do good in the world – is actually a signature of the Harvard Law School,” Minow said. “We have to figure out how to do more of this: have a really good time, do good in the world, and say thanks.”

Saad Rasool, L.L.M. ’11, is a Pakistani student who also serves on Student Government. He said he and other members wanted to raise awareness about the disaster in addition to raising money.

“Everyone back home knows somebody who has been affected by this,” Rasool said. “The entire country is in mourning, but we haven’t lost hope. Pakistanis are a resilient people, and we’re doing everything in our power to claw out of this.”

Rasool said he wanted to thank the entire Harvard community for its support.

“The international community’s help, and in particular, Harvard’s efforts, are extremely appreciated and invaluable,” he said. 

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