The countdown begins soon for cooks who plan to roast a turkey and turn out all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
The countdown begins soon for cooks who plan to roast a turkey and turn out all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) ( Matthew Mead )

B oulder resident Erika Arett is used to feeding an army of family members on Thanksgiving, so this year she is looking to fill some empty seats at her table after her move to Colorado is making it difficult for family to visit.

Arett is hoping to share her Thanksgiving dinner with a small group of University of Colorado international students through the Boulder Friends of International Students program, which pairs local hosts with students looking to experience the traditional American holiday.

Jennifer Phillips, of CU's International Students and Scholar Services, said only 14 students have signed up for the program but several spots remain.

Phillips said they will be pairing students with hosts through Wednesday and students can visit colorado.edu/bfis to sign up for the program.

Only one student has been paired with Arett through the Thanksgiving program, but she's hoping her champagne-basted turkey will lure a few more curious guests.

"I think it would be great to have a few students, rather than just one," Arett said. "Students want to be with people their own age and I think having them together would make it more fun for everyone."

After living outside of the United States for about six years, Arett said she knows what it feels like to be in a strange place during the holidays.

"It can be lonely being in a foreign country where you don't know a lot of people, especially around the holidays," Arett said.

Longmont resident Debbie Hamrick has also been paired up with one student, but said she has room for up to nine more and plenty of food to go around.

Hamrick is hoping her traditional turkey dinner will give students a typical Thanksgiving experience while the vegetarian-friendly dishes, inspired by her daughter, will accommodate those weary of the traditional bird.

Hamrick said her daughters also inspired her to join the program. With both of them away from home for college, Hamrick said she wanted to provide a welcoming place for students who can't be with their families during the holiday season.

"I would hope that my girls would have someone to go during the holidays too so I wanted to sort of do my part," Hamrick said.

This year, she's excited to have her daughters and some local students sharing her table.