West Hartford church hosts refugees for Thanksgiving dinner

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WEST HARTFORD - A special Thanksgiving celebration in West Hartford took place Thursday, when a local church opened its doors to refugee families who recently re-settled in Connecticut.

Dozens of people gathered with some brand new refugee families experiencing their first Thanksgiving meal. Maha Abdullah was one of about 60 people who attended a refugee dinner at St. John's Episcopal Church. While she's lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, she wanted to make sure the refugees at the dinner from Chad and Syria felt comfortable sharing a meal at the table.

"In our religion we talk about Thanksgiving everyday, so we give thanks. It is part of our prayer and we tell them that is a special day for that in the United States so this is part of it," Abdullah said.

The idea for the dinner began when Nancy Latif invited one refugee family, but it quickly grew much larger.

"It kind of mushroomed because I couldn`t stop with one family. I had to take in so many of the families that I`ve been working with," Latif said.

While the dinner was housed in a church, Latif said she didn't want this to be a religious or political occasion, but instead just a friendship gathering.

"I heard that they`re thankful to eat a meal without being worried that something`s going to happen, even during a meal. I heard that so many are grateful to have so much food," Abdullah said.