PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- With COVID-19 cases rising, Grand Canyon University is encouraging students to stay on campus through Thanksgiving break.

It has many students staying in their dorms instead of flying home to spend the holiday with family.

"The school tells us to stay here," said GCU Junior, Nathan Horner. "Keep everything on campus." Horner will skip a trip home to Hawaii this holiday.

"I just didn't want to risk it," said Horner. "I have a lot of elderly people I live with."

GCU cardboard cut outs

When Horner thought his family would set the table without him, an idea was brewing among the campus promotions team. They came up with a big plan to send a version of students home without risking anyone's health.

Renate Spilger is the Canyon Enterprise Division Manager and the brains behind the idea. "I said, 'why don't we offer the students that can't go home, to print a cutout for them and have them sit at the table with their families,'" said Spilger.

"It means a lot because my family didn't really get to see me at the dinner table on Thanksgiving for the past three years," said Horner.

For less than 30 bucks, students are sending giant cutouts to their families they can't see over the holiday.

"My grandma is in critical health, and she has diabetes and a bunch of other health problems," said GCU Junior, Raven Hayakawa. "We try not to see her in case we do have COVID. We don't want her to get it and become even more ill. We're going to send her a picture of me and my brother who, we're from GCU, so she can have us there with her."

"I think my dad will just be like giggling, but my mom will think this is really awesome," said Horner.

Horner won't spend Thanksgiving with his parents, but they will get to spend it with him, all thanks to the cutout.

This holiday, despite COVID, he can finally say, "Save me a seat."

Anyone can order the "Save me a seat custom cutouts" by November 19, here.


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