San Carlos Antonio (right), a military veteran, plates food with fellow volunteers during the 36th Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

The 37th-annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner is approaching, and radio listeners Friday will have a chance to donate however much they can to support the event during the ninth-annual Alpha Media San Antonio Radiothon.

All day Friday, tune in to 102.7 JACK-FM, La Ley 95.7, Norteño 720 AM, 550 KTSA, 94.1 KTFM, or ESPN 1250 to hear members of the community speak on all of the good that the nation’s largest Thanksgiving dinner does.

Raul Jimenez, a San Antonio restaurant owner and businessman, started the dinner in 1979 for senior citizens and the less fortunate who can’t afford to prepare a holiday meal for themselves or their families. The event has grown to serve more than 24,000 veterans, senior citizens, and homeless individuals each year with the help of more than 4,000 volunteers.

Now, Patricia Jimenez, Raul Jimenez’s daughter, runs the dinner, which features live music and dining at a community table at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. In a Wednesday phone interview, Patricia told the Rivard Report that most of the money needed to make the dinner happen is raised during the yearly Radiothon.

“The average cost of the dinner is $150,000-$160,000,” she said. “Last year, we raised almost $115,000 from the Radiothon. It would cost around $250,000, but the convention center donates (its) facilities and a number of organizations cover some of our costs.”

She said that no contribution to the dinner is too small.

“We have lots of people who call in and give $5, $10, or maybe $20, and that really adds up,” Patricia said. “That means that everybody, from all walks of life, can make a difference. It’s truly a blessing. It’s wonderful to see the whole community come together for this every year. So we’re very grateful for this partnership with Alpha Media.”

Listeners can donate during the Radiothon between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. by calling 210-654-5151. The Spanish language line is 210-645-5201. To learn more about the dinner and about more opportunities to donate, volunteer, or fundraise, click here.

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James McCandless

Former intern James McCandless is a recent St. Mary's University graduate. He has worked with the San Antonio Current and Texas Public Radio.