This college professor invited all his students to Thanksgiving dinner at his home: 'You would be treated as family'

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Larry Bailey (pictured with his wife, Pam), a biblical studies professor at Marshall University, invited the entire student body to Thanksgiving dinner at his home. (Photo: Courtesy of Larry Bailey)
Larry Bailey (pictured with his wife, Pam), a biblical studies professor at Marshall University, invited the entire student body to Thanksgiving dinner at his home. (Photo: Courtesy of Larry Bailey)

A college professor who invited his students to Thanksgiving dinner at his home is surprised that his offer went viral.

On Friday, Madison Davis, a student at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., tweeted an email from her biblical studies professor, Larry Bailey, containing a thoughtful invitation.

“Students, in the case that any of you do not have somewhere to spend Thanksgiving, I would be honored if you spent it with me and my family,” read the email addressed to 60 students. “You need not feel awkward about it, you would be treated as family, and you would definitely be filled with good food and joyful heart.

“I must warn you though,” wrote Bailey, “we are loud and laugh a lot. So, if you have nowhere else to go, why be alone when you can be surrounded by people that will love you? Just respond to this email or text me for directions.”

“Professors like this,” wrote Davis on the tweet, which got 264K likes and 42K retweets. After reading Bailey’s email, students complained about their teachers.

When contacted for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle, Bailey had no idea his invitation was on social media, because he sends it on almost every major holiday. “Over the years, I’ve paid attention to which students are in crisis, have the means to travel home, or have families to visit in the first place,” Bailey, 50, a pastor at Living Water Free Methodist Church, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Bailey and his wife of 22 years, Pam, started inviting students in 2008 during his first teaching semester at Marshall University. “We wanted to treat the students as we hoped someone would care for our kids in the same situation,” he says. Over the years, a handful of students have accepted Bailey’s invitation, which includes dinner with his “loud and joyful family”: Pam; their three children, ages 33, 31, and 29; and both sets of parents.

The professor, who didn’t attend college himself until the age of 29, also opened his home while taking classes at Warner University in Lake Wales, Fla. “Back then, dozens of kids from school would crash on our couch, cook in our kitchen, and watch Friends each week in our living room. It became a Thursday night tradition,” he says.

And when the parents of these students, many of whom were poor, needed a place to stay, Bailey offered the guest room in his four-bedroom home.

Regardless of how many seats are filled on Thanksgiving, Bailey’s offer is deeper than a good meal. “The holidays are how I’ve developed long-lasting relationships with my students.”

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