Jesuit High School’s annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive culminated Sunday (Nov. 18) with a magnificent day at Jesuit. Hundreds of volunteers packed and delivered a basket drive-record 231 abundant Thanksgiving meals for families in need in the Tampa Bay area.
The students, family members, alumni, and Jesuit staff arrived on Sunday morning and first celebrated Mass in the new Chapel of the Holy Cross before heading to the cafeteria. There they ate a delicious breakfast before the packing frenzy began, the preparing all of the “baskets,” the large cardboard boxes filled with everything needed for a complete, robust Thanksgiving meal for a large family: frozen turkeys, cooking pans, stuffing, rice, cranberries, vegetables, gravy, applesauce, macaroni and cheese, and more.
Jesuit’s Director of Community Service, Andy Wood ’92, challenged the student body last month to raise more than $400 per homeroom via weekly collections, enough to guarantee the basket drive could deliver the 231 robust meals promised. The students responded, with the homeroom of teachers April Bombka and Nicole Sutton leading the way with $1,463 of the $13,900 collected via homerooms. Including contributions from Homecoming Fun Day and from a Mothers' Club bake sale, the total raised this year was $17,700.
The money was used to bulk purchase all of the food for the baskets except the turkeys. Those were supplied by the Jesuit Dads' Club, thanks to the generosity of Jesuit families. Some 300 frozen turkeys (12-15 lbs.) were donated to the Dads' Club last week during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. The extra 70 turkeys were donated to a local food bank.
On Friday, two days before all of the baskets were packed, Wood delivered hundreds of pounds of food (canned vegetables, cranberries, bread, stuffing, applesauce, etc.) to campus in a U-Haul, where it was unloaded and organized in the cafeteria. The extra money raised was used to provide a gift card for each basket.
After the boxes/baskets were all packed Sunday, the students/families delivered 175 of them to seven area Boys & Girls Clubs (including the new Jeff and Penny Vinik Family Boys & Girls Club at Winston Park), each intended for a specific family, and the remaining 56 were brought to families connected to the Migrant Education Program.
Thank you to all who contributed to the school's largest-ever Thanksgiving Basket Drive.
Please view the photo slideshow below of many aspects of the 2018 Thanksgiving Basket Drive, including the basket packing and delivery on Sunday, the food delivery on Friday, and the Dads' Club's turkey collections: