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'It means a lot to me': Boys Town family's Thanksgiving dinner brings dozens of families together


BOYS TOWN, Neb. —

Turkey is cooked and green bean casserole is prepped — all the ingredients for a typical Thanksgiving dinner, but this meal has a special twist.

"We have people from all over Nebraska, but also we've had young ladies from all over the country," Kyle Skartvedt, Boys Town family-teacher, said.

Kyle and Jodi Skartvedt have been family teachers at Boys Town for 25 years. Housing and teaching eight girls at a time.

"I think we're rounding the corner to probably 200," Jodi said.

Nearly 200 girls have lived in the Skartvedt home, and every year, the Skartvedts open their home to their students' families for Thanksgiving dinner.

"It's really amazing to see everybody come together," Kyle said.

The Skartvedts said they've hosted as many as 57 guests for Thanksgiving, including their own family, and this year they're setting the table for 37.

"We're all working together to get it all prepared for their families to start arriving between 1:30 and 2," Jodi said.

Many of the girls stayed in the Skartvedts' home, there for more than a year, so having their families visit for Thanksgiving is just one more thing to be thankful for.

"It means a lot to me," Jamie Domer, current Skartvedt student and house resident, said. "They get to experience the time here with my Boys Town family, and my Boys Town family gets to experience that time with my actual family, so it's like a win-win situation."

The Skartvedt family, current students and their families and even past students, like Maddie Hagan, all have a place at the Skartvedt dinner table.

"I just keep wanting to come back because it just makes me feel like I'm home," Hagan said. "Home-cooked meal is definitely appreciated, and leftovers are definitely appreciated, but also seeing my family and seeing the Skartvedts and seeing the girls, it's important to me."

Everyone is coming together to give thanks.

"Often around that table, as they're saying what their thanksgiving, what they're thankful for, they are thankful for Boys Town," Jodi said.

Kyle added that the family and their guest are just grateful to be together.

"The focus is really just about being thankful and being happy and enjoying family, whatever family that might be," Kyle said.