The Daily Illini

Organizations help spread holiday joy

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Organizations help spread holiday joy

By Julie Kang, Staff Writer

University students and local community organizations are working to help families in need celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional holiday meal.

Katie Thomas, director of Wesley Food Pantry, said November is typically their busiest month of the year.

“A lot of people are expecting friends or relatives for Thanksgiving, which is why there is an increase in the number of people who come in during this month,” she said.

Thomas said more than 400 families come to the pantry in November, while between 300 and 400 families come in the other months.

For Thanksgiving, the pantry works to purchase food from the food bank that can make up a common Thanksgiving dinner, such as mashed potatoes and canned corn.

The University is also running a Thanksgiving Basket Drive with Stone Creek Church to compile any necessary nonperishable items a family may need into a basket to have a Thanksgiving dinner.

Dementro Powell, assistant director of student programs and activities at the Illini Union, works as the liaison between the University’s Office of Volunteer Programs and the church.

The Thanksgiving Basket Drive is an annual event that continues for around two weeks during the Thanksgiving season, and this year’s drive ended on Tuesday.

Volunteers for the drive helped advertise the event through flyers, word-of-mouth and chalk writing around campus.

Powell said the ultimate goal of the drive is to provide food for people who are unable to have a Thanksgiving dinner, whether it be families or individuals.

People in the community helped these families in various ways. They donated products, which are sorted into baskets or boxes, or they purchased pre-made baskets from the Quad Shop in the Illini Union. After donations are made, the baskets are transported to Stone Creek Church, where they are distributed to families in need.

Powell said the project is important because it helps make sure those without food can celebrate Thanksgiving in the best way possible.

“We personally take up on this project because we realize our privilege — something as small as having easy access to dinner — is not necessarily the case for everyone,” Powell said in an email.

Natalie Raden, sophomore in AHS, was unaware of the Thanksgiving service events at the University and suggested sending emails and advertising through posters about the service events.

In addition, Raden said providing volunteering information about soup kitchens and food pantries in different parts of Illinois would be helpful, since the majority of students do not stay on campus for break.

Raden said food pantries and soup kitchens are important during holiday seasons, such as Thanksgiving, because they help less fortunate families have a typical Thanksgiving feast.

“From friends and family to our excellent education, I have a lot to be thankful for,” Raden said. “We also have to remember that not everyone is as lucky as us and we can use this time to improve the lives of others.”

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