‘This helps them so much’
This is the ninth year the Washington Education Association handed out Thanksgiving baskets to families in the Washington Community School District (WCSD) on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
For WCSD teacher Angela Taylor, the most rewarding thing is telling the families they will receive a Thanksgiving basket.
“When we call the families they’re totally surprised and thankful,” she said. “This helps them so much. It’s nice to be able to take the burden off of the family for one meal during the holidays.”
Taylor is the committee chairperson for American Education Week in the WCSD, which is when the donations are gathered from teachers in the district for the Thanksgiving baskets. Taylor said she didn’t know what to expect when the donation drive began.
“I was surprised at how much the staff donated,” she said. “Some teachers wrote out a check and I looked at the check and said ‘I would like to be able to give that much next year.’”
From these donations, 147 baskets were handed out, Taylor said. The number of baskets handed out was down this year because the price of food increased to $18 this year. Last year the price of the baskets was $17.
In the Thanksgiving basket, items the family received for their holiday meal included canned vegetables from corn to green beans to peas to yams, a 5-pound bag of potatoes, a box of stuffing, a box of no-bake cheesecake, a packet of gravy, a bag of carrots, a bag of tossed salad, dinner rolls, and a turkey roll, she said.
Each school in the district was asked to come up with a list of names to receive the Thanksgiving baskets, which are kept confidential, Taylor said. Some students find out they’re receiving the donation the day of pickup when they come in the car with their parents.
“When they pull up, just seeing the kids smiling from ear to ear is very heartwarming,” Taylor said.
The dry goods for the baskets were boxed up on Sunday, Nov. 24.
“We were there for 10 minutes boxing the dry goods,” Taylor said. “There were about 30 teachers who showed up to help and they brought their children along to help out.”
Fareway store manager Dave Waite said he enjoys helping out with this program.
“I think it’s a great program,” he said. “The food goes to the people that really need it.”
Stewart Elementary principal Adam Miller assisted with handing out the Thanksgiving baskets on Tuesday afternoon. He said it is important to be able to help out the students and families in as many ways as possible.
“This is a great way to show our appreciation and say ‘thank you’ for partnering with us throughout the year,” Miller said.
Student groups in the districts also donated money for meals, Taylor said. Some of the student groups who donated were the Washington High School FFA, National Honor Society, and Peer Helpers. The Washington Middle School student council was another student group that donated, Taylor said.