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STARKVILLE, Miss.(WCBI) – While many are spending the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family, not everyone gets to go home.

For students far, far from home, Thanksgiving can take on a different meaning.

There’s no place like home for the holidays but for many Mississippi State international students, their Thanksgiving break will be spent in Starkville.

That’s where retired MSU Professor Armando De Le Cruz and his wife Ruth step in.

“35 years ago, usually the universities and restaurants were closed. So, the international students would have no place to go. We started inviting them to our home. It got to the point where it got so large that we asked the First United Methodist Church for help,”said De Le Cruz.

The long time Thanksgiving tradition, that once only fed a few, now feeds more than 200 and has grown beyond just international students.

“So, we actually have now a mix of guests. It use to be mostly just single international students but you know the world has changed. More students are married and more students have families and they all stay here,”said De Le Cruz.

Kyung Eun Kim is from Korea, she says she is thankful for the De Le Cruz family extending her the invitation.

“I’m so glad,  I have this opportunity to share a nice time with people. Even though we don’t know perfectly, we can introduce ourselves, and make friends and share happiness and give thanks,”said  Kim

The annual luncheon is to ensure that everyone gets a hardy thanksgiving but De Le Cruz says he hope everyone walks away with more than just a meal.

” The objective is really to share with them our tradition and at the same time tell them why thanksgiving day is so important to us . We have lectures, slide shows, drama skits and cultural programs that depict the history of Thanksgiving in this country,”said De La Cruz.

There were more than 21 countries represented in Thursday’s event.

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