By Leah Boucher – Staff Reporter
UMF’s honor society Alpha Lambda Delta donated Thanksgiving baskets to ten families with children who attend the W.G. Mallett School in an effort to combat local hunger. Families in financial need were provided with food for a full Thanksgiving meal to cook and eat together during the holiday season.
Sarah Jenkins, Secretary of Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD), worked this year as the Thanksgiving Drive Coordinator. Her responsibilities consisted of contacting the school to arrange this drive, finding the number of families in need, and ultimately getting donations for a successful drive.
Kayla Tremblay, President of ALD, worked with Jenkins to set a goal of raising $300 this semester for the baskets. “This is the third year we have organized this drive, and in past years, we have asked for donations of canned goods or for businesses to create Thanksgiving baskets themselves,” said Tremblay. “Because this year’s need rose to making ten baskets, we chose to ask for donations in the form of money. That way ALD members could go shopping together to make sure all baskets had the exact same items.”
Baskets consisted of cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, a bag of potatoes, gravy, mixes for 3 different pies, pie crusts, a loaf of bread and a gift card to purchase a turkey for each family.
“Last year, we donated five baskets to families, and I reached out to car dealerships to donate,” said Jenkins. “As a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for cross country and track, I brought up the idea of partnering with ALD, as the committee wanted to participate in a service project, and this encouraged ALD to look for donations solely within the UMF community this year.”
Not only did Jenkins encourage SAAC, who raised over $180, to donate, but she challenged other UMF clubs to raise money as well. “We worked with the Association for the Education of Young Children and Bust-A-Move Beavers to raise even more money,” she said, “and from our collaboration efforts, we reached our goal and ended up buying more food than we had originally budgeted for.”
Morgan Leso, Mallett’s guidance counselor who worked with Jenkins to make a final decision on the number of families in need, is grateful for the support ALD annually provides in trying to combat student and family hunger, an effort that Mallett School itself works on year round.
“Within the past several years, Mallett has opened a food pantry, which is funded through grant money and is open once a month,” said Leso. “However, around the holidays and the winter season, the need for more food rises, and we look for any outside donations we can get, which is what makes ALD’s donations in the form of complete Thanksgiving meals more helpful than ever.”
Tremblay, Jenkins and other ALD members bought the food at Walmart and Hannaford the week of Thanksgiving and dropped the baskets off directly at Mallett School, making it possible for families to pick them up or have the food brought to them by Leso. “There are some families who lack transportation to pick up the meals at the school, and in those cases, I just drop the baskets off at their homes to make sure they can still enjoy a meal with their loved ones,” said Leso. “A lack of transportation or food does not mean people should be denied an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.”