Some East Tennesseans joined with refugee families from Iraq Saturday to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
UT's Service Learning class and Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church's refugee ministry organized the event for more than 20 families at the house of Ken & Linda Piety in Karns.
Families who attended received free meals and free gifts. Organizers said they just want to show the families, many of whom have relocated to East Tennessee within the last year, that they are welcome in the region.
"It's a wonderful experience for us to experience what it is to welcome a stranger, and they enrich us very much," said organizer Anna Garlington.
One family who attended the Thanksgiving meal were the Ilsudanis. Tawfwq Ilsudani brought his family to East Tennessee after receiving multiple threats to his life in Baghdad, Iraq.
"I came [to America] because it's [Iraq] is too dangerous for my life, and my family too," Ilsudani said.
Meal organizers say they hope to stay in contact with all of the families who attended to help them adjust to their new lives in America.