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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) — Thursday marks the first Thanksgiving for thousands of new immigrants in New York City as many arrived just a few months ago from Latin and South America.

Catholic Charities welcomed them with a holiday meal to help them feel at home.

The tradition for the Alianza Division of Catholic Charities is a Thanksgiving dinner for those in need in the Washington Heights community — but this year they reached out to its newest families.

“This year we really wanted to welcome our asylum seeking families, we’ve been working with them, they’ve been staying in a motel in the neighborhood, and they are in our after-school programs,” said Eddie Silverio, Division Director of Catholic Charities Community Services.

Thanksgiving may be an all new holiday for those celebrating it for the first time, like 8-year old Gretel from Ecuador, but the concept makes perfect sense..

“Es algo como pasar en familia compartir la comida, esas cosas así.”

She says it’s all about being with your family, sharing a meal together.

And 12-year-old Shari is from Colombia.

“Sirve para agradecer todo lo que tenemos.”

She says Thanksgiving is about gratitude for all we have.

And since it was at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, Thanksgiving is also known as something many Spanish speakers in the U.S. call it:

“San Giving, you got it! We are calling it San Giving.”

On the menu was traditional Thanksgiving turkey, but also “San Giving” specialties.

“We have flan, we have tres leches, so we’re keeping it Latino traditional,” Silverio said. “We have a little bit of pernil (pork) next to the pavo (turkey).”

There were also some goodie bags to bring home and a little bit of entertainment to uplift the spirit, including some traditional dancing and interactive fun from the People’s Theater Project, which is all about welcoming the newest New Yorkers.

“This has been a long journey for many of the families here today and taking a moment to breathe and remind ourselves that we are powerful and we can do anything and this is just the beginning,” said Mino Lora with People’s Theater Project.

ALSO READ | ‘Corn Kid’ helps donate 90,000 cans of vegetables to NYC food rescue for Thanksgiving

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New immigrants experience first Thanksgiving in New York City

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