For the second straight year, Jesuit High School's annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive reached more than 275 food-insecure families, providing them with a robust holiday meal to enjoy on the Thanksgiving holiday.
The annual drive has become a cherished tradition on the Jesuit school calendar, and this year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesuit students responded as generously as ever. They set a record for homeroom collections - more than $18,000 - which was used to buy all of the food, supplies, and gift cards. The copious homeroom donations, as well as the Jesuit Dads' Club's record collection of 335 frozen turkeys, enabled the school to not only fulfill its promise of 261 meals for families in need, but add another 17 for a total of 278 this year.
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22), as always, hundreds Jesuit students and families came to campus for Mass, brunch, and then to pack and deliver all the "baskets" – large cardboard boxes filled with a frozen turkey and all the sides (stuffing, applesauce, vegetables, gravy, rolls, etc.) and supplies (cooking pans + $20 Walmart gift cards).
This year, for the first time, all of the basket-packing was done outdoors, in Oliva Courtyard. Each basket was designated for a specific family at one of seven local Boys & Girls Clubs (30 families had registered at each club) plus nearly 70 families affiliated with the Migrant Education Program. The students/families then fanned out, delivering each basket to its specific destination in Hillsborough County.
Jesuit's Director of Community Service, Andy Wood '92 launched the drive at Convocation in late October, challenging the students to raise more than $400 in each homeroom via weekly collections, to guarantee Jesuit could produce the promised number of baskets. The students responded by raising $18,196 via homeroom collections – enough money to purchase all of the food and supplies plus the gift cards. Two homerooms exceeded $1,000: Dr. Angelo Pastore/Matt Thompson, and April Bombka/Jason Ault.
On Friday afternoon (Nov. 20), Wood arrived on campus driving a large truck filled with the bulk-purchased side items. Dozens of students helped unload and stack them in the cafeteria, setting the stage for Sunday's close to the Thanksgiving Basket Drive.
The need was great as ever in 2020, and the school was able to reach families in the community and help them celebrate Thanksgiving with a special holiday meal. The extra 10- to 14-pound frozen turkeys (which were collected by the Dads' Club last week from Jesuit families during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up) were provided to food pantries at Corpus Christi Catholic Church and Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.
Thank you to everyone who made the 2020 Thanksgiving Basket Drive a success! Click here to view a TV segment from FOX 13 about the basket drive.
Please view two photo slideshows below, the first is from Sunday's basket packing and delivery, and the second is from the Dads' Club's turkey collections and Friday's food delivery to campus.