Students at Jamestown High School are taking the term "Thanksgiving" literally as they donate dinners to families in need.
On Tuesday, members of the National Honor Society at JHS filled 10 plastic totes with all the food supplies necessary to make a complete Thanksgiving dinner. The totes, referred to as "Thanksgiving baskets," are going to be donated to 10 families in the community who are unable to provide a Thanksgiving meal for themselves.
Each basket contains food items including: a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberries, peas, green beans, corn, gravy, pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Also included in each basket will be a Thanksgiving card signed by every Honor Society member involved in the project.
Members of the National Honor Society’s Jamestown High School chapter assembled Thanksgiving baskets to be donated to 10 families in the community.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
The JHS Honor Society is collaborating with Jamestown's Joint Neighborhood Project and the local Salvation Army, who each located five families in need, to make the Thanksgiving holiday special. According to Donnelle Conti, JHS teacher and Honor Society adviser, this is the first Thanksgiving basket project to happen for several years.
"This project used to be a tradition but I would say it's been at least five years since we've done it," said Conti. "When I started as the Honor Society adviser this year, I had decided that this was the major thing that I was going to bring back to the organization."
According to Conti, JHS alumnus and former Honor Society member Paul Robbins contacted her and really pushed to get the project going again. During the time that the Thanksgiving basket project was defunct, the Joint Neighborhood Project acquired a new executive director and the Salvation Army acquired a new food pantry coordinator, neither of whom were aware of the project's existence in the past.
"Both the JNP and the Salvation Army were thrilled when I called and told them about this," she said.
The baskets will be delivered to their designated recipients today. The JNP has provided the names of their families to the Honor Society, who will personally deliver the baskets to the families' homes. The Salvation Army will deliver the baskets to their families, who have been left anonymous by the organization.
According to Hannah Bensink, JHS senior and project manager of the Honor Society, most of the food was donated by local businesses including: Eagle Zip, L.J. Stein, Big Lots, Westburgh Electric, Advanced Manufacturing Technology and the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, who donated $100. Honor Society families also contributed food and money. Some of the canned vegetables were provided by the different classes at JHS through can drives.
"We have an abundance of food," said Bensink. "We have the sizes of families and we're going to cater (each basket) to each family's need. (The Salvation Army) provided us with four to five people per family so we're sending enough for just an average size family and through JNP we have a family of eight that we're feeding. But we've received so many donations that we're definitely able to do it."
"I would hope that the families would get back to JNP or the Salvation Army and they could get back to us," said Conti. "But the kids are looking at this from the standpoint of helping the community, so whether or not we get the recognition for this is not a big deal."