Staunton café opens doors to Mary Baldwin students on Thanksgiving

Serendipity will be putting away their usual menus to make way for their Thanksgiving platters.
Serendipity will be putting away their usual menus to make way for their Thanksgiving platters.(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:34 PM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - A Staunton eatery is offering a place to celebrate Thanksgiving for Mary Baldwin University students who aren’t able to make it back home.

Ixchel Freed and Chris Inks with Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery said Thursday’s plans align with their goal for the café: making everyone feel welcome.

“We’ve tried to create an environment that’s welcoming to all, and the college population is a group that comes in, and we’ve made some really sweet friendships with those kids,” said Freed.

Freed said they came to the decision after discussing whether or not to be open on Thanksgiving. She said employees are invited, but they are not required to come in on the holiday. Instead, the family will host the event.

“It’s just us. We don’t have a lot of family in the area, and let’s open it up to the college students who have nowhere to go,” Freed said.

They agreed to support college kids on the day since they both have college-aged children. They said being in college can be draining financially and emotionally, so they didn’t want anyone to be alone.

“The younger college kids, they don’t necessarily have the luxury of jumping on a plane or a train and heading home. That first year of college is actually the hardest to do that in. We figured if there were any that were still here, they might not have many friends yet because they haven’t been here very long. This gives them some place to not feel like they’re just sitting in their dorm,” Inks said.

And for many first-year students, this will be the first time they’re away from home for an extended period of time.

“You’re in a brand new place that you don’t know. You don’t know anybody around. On top of it, you’ve never really been away from home either,” Inks said.

Freed said they will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal with many dishes, and guests are not expected to bring anything. It isn’t just the food they have to look forward to, though.

“We’re hoping to do some board games, so we’re not just providing a meal, but company and getting to know them, and hoping that it’s an intimate experience and hopefully they feel connected and they’ll come back and see us,” Freed said.

There is a $5 refundable deposit for students planning to come. Inks said that’s just so they can reduce food waste.

You can sign up to join the family for Thanksgiving at this link. The event is from 1-3:30 p.m.

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