Thanks to the help from our Third Formers and donations from the entire community, the 12th annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive, better known as the Turkey Drive, is complete. Originally introduced to the school in 2010 by Mr. Trautz, the Turkey Drive collects food and donations, assembles them into Thanksgiving meals and then distributes them to families and organizations that help families in need. The first year, the school was able to help 36 families receive meals for Thanksgiving. The event has grown exponentially, and it is looked forward to every year by the rising Form III students. This year, the school helped 491 families receive meals for Thanksgiving and were also able to help out two new organizations: On The Rise, an advocacy support group for homeless or previously homeless women, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is dedicated to helping those in need. The goal of the Turkey Drive is to continue to help out these organizations and their families, especially now as people are still working to recover from Covid.
The Turkey Drive process starts in mid-October when Mr. George reaches out to previous and new organizations to make sure they would still like to work with us this year. Then, the drive is announced in late October, so that students and faculty can begin to think about buying specific goods. After that, the Form III students get ready for the drive. They start building up the boxes which will be used to collect the food around campus. Along with these, signs and emails were put out that tell people what they should be getting and when. After enough food is brought in, the Form III students begin organizing all the food from the boxes into the meals that can be delivered. In an assembly-line style, the boxes are passed along, and the required amount of food is placed in each box. Ingredients such as potatoes, yams, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are all placed at this time. Once the meals are prepped and ready to be distributed, students and parents drive around, either to organizations or directly to the families, and drop off the meals.
This year, however, a few things were done differently from before. First of all, as with last year, instead of turkeys, gift cards had to be collected instead. Also, to boost collection, a competition for a pizza lunch was set up between advisories in each grade to drive students to get more food. This caused an initial surge of items that left some categories lacking in food. However, after a few more emails and collection days, it was all leveled out. And because of the lack of some items, a donut sale was put together by some of the Third Formers in order to raise money to buy some of the missing items. Overall, the Turkey Drive was successful this year, thanks to the quick thinking of the Form III students and despite the extra precautions that had to be taken.
And so, with such a meaningful event and so many people helping out, there were many new experiences, especially for the Form III students who hadn’t done something like this before. Mr. George, who has been an integral part of this event every year, connecting with the organizations and making sure the donations go to the right place, placed a lot of emphasis this year on the delivery drivers, both parents, and students. He mentioned that without them, the drive wouldn’t have been possible. In total, there were 37 parents and 23 students who helped to deliver meals to organizations and families. He also emphasized “the team project” and how everyone chipped in to do their part.
I interviewed two Form III students who helped out a lot through the process. Jin Lee played a big role in the assembly of the boxes and the meals. When a mishap caused some boxes to be missing items, he and a few others went back through and checked all the boxes to make sure they had the right ingredients. He said that he “wanted to make sure [he] had an impact… so that every family received a meal.” Additionally, I interviewed Will Umschied, who went along with the delivery drivers and helped to distribute the meals. He helped to deliver over 40 meals and was able to see some of the families in person. He said that “he enjoyed seeing the families’ reactions, and how they were so happy to be able to have a nice Thanksgiving.”
Overall, I think that the Turkey Drive was better than ever this year. Because of the spirits of the Form III students, it turned out to be one of the drives best years yet. Students put in their best efforts, and thanks to the organization of Mr. George and other faculty members, they were able to do that. However, the problems of families in need aren’t solved yet. Although the Turkey Drive was able to supply them with a Thanksgiving meal, there are still others out there who need help. I encourage you to go out and serve your community as well.