Jesuit High School launched its annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive on Monday (Oct. 24), as Director of Community Service Andy Wood ’92 challenged the student body at Convocation to heed to the messages of Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis, and to give of themselves even more than last year.
In order to enter into the logic of the Kingdom of Heaven, we must recognize that we are poor with the poor, and that a pure heart is one that has been stripped bare, a heart that knows how to bend down and share its life with those most in need,’” Wood said.
Last year, the basket drive culminated in the distribution of 146 abundant Thanksgiving “baskets” – giant cardboard boxes stuffed with traditional Thanksgiving food and cooking essentials along with a $50 Walmart gift card – to local families at five Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.
The $14,527 raised by students last year set a new basket drive record, and it allowed the school to distribute more baskets, with more food in each basket, and add the gift cards.
Wood re-established the homeroom challenge this year to inspire giving. Money will be collected in homeroom each Thursday (and on both Tuesday and Thursday during the final week) for the month leading up to Thanksgiving. Last year, the sophomore homeroom of teachers Wood and Will Bryson exceeded $900 donated, the most in the school. A Mothers’ Club bake sale and Fun Day donations also contribute to the basket drive.
“Over the next few weeks, you will have a chance to make a donation to help these families who, without your help, will not have a Thanksgiving meal on their tables,” Wood said. “It gave me goosebumps to think about how each and every week (last year), those sophomores in our homeroom reached deep into their pockets to help those most in need. (They) truly discovered what it meant to give and not count the cost.”
The week before Thanksgiving, the money raised by each homeroom is used bulk purchase the food and essentials needed to prepare a Thanksgiving meal – cooking pans, stuffing, potatoes, rice, cranberries, vegetables, gravy, and more.
All except for the turkeys, which the Jesuit Dads’ Club provides via collections of 12-15 lbs. frozen turkeys during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up in the two weeks before Thanksgiving.
On Sunday, Nov. 20, the school community will come together at Jesuit for Mass, breakfast, and to pack and distribute all of the Thanksgiving baskets. At Noon, they will deliver baskets to local Boys & Girls Clubs, and some baskets will be delivered directly to the homes of families in need.
“It comes down to each and every person in this gym,” Wood said. “Will you heed the words of Nelson Mandela? Will you rest while others languish in poverty and hunger? Will you follow the message of Pope Francis and strip your heart bare and bend down and share your gifts with those most in need. Will you make a personal sacrifice each week so that those who are less fortunate than you can have a Thanksgiving meal on their tables?”
View video below of Wood's Convocation presentation on Monday:
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