State College Diner In The Giving Spirit

Ye Olde State College Diner may be famous for grilled stickies, but when it comes to tradition, theirs is rooted good food and philanthropy.

While the majority of Penn State was emptied and everyone was indulging and relaxing at home, some students and many locals headed to the diner for a full-fledged Thanksgiving meal costing only 50 cents. A tradition since 1938, this was the 74th annual 50-cent Thanksgiving meal in State College.

Yep, 50 cents.

But that’s not all. Every tip and donation the Diner receives on Thanksgiving goes to the chosen organization or foundation of that year. This year, the proceeds were given to the Tides organization, which provides grief counseling for children and their families.

Caroline Fleck, a Penn State grad, is involved in the Tides organization and decided to spend her Thanksgiving day volunteering at the diner. Though the tradition has been around for a while, it was Fleck’s first time working at the diner and serving the meal.
Fleck, along with around 20 other volunteers, worked from noon to 7 p.m. dishing out meals to roughly between 250 and 300 people, according to manager Vince Lehman.

“We served turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and a little bit of parsley on top to make it look nice,” says Lehman.

The Diner provided a great place for the many international students who weren’t able to make the trip back home for the holiday. Lehman had worked in the kitchen for past Thanksgiving meals at the diner, but this year was his first time being in the midst of it all, and he says that it was a lively atmosphere.

“It was fun. Everybody was happy,’ says Lehman.
Along with providing a place to eat for students who couldn’t be with their families, some of the servers had volunteered to help out because they weren’t able to make it home either, like Fleck, whose relatives weren’t near State College this year.

“It gave me something to do,” she says. “I love volunteering for Tides and trying to get as involved as possible. I’ll definitely do it again.”

Photo by Orhan Yilmaz

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