Through the generosity and love of the Winnacunnet community, students and staff have been able to provide Thanksgiving Meal Baskets to some families across the Seacoast. This year, however, things will be different.
Due to COVID-19, students are no longer allowed to participate in the donation drive, which leaves it up to the Winnacunnet staff members to bring in food and pantry items for the drive.
“I think this is a great tradition. It gives people the opportunity to share with those less fortunate than them.” French teacher Anthony Baker said. “I believe an activity like this is just as beneficial to the person giving as it is to the person receiving.”
This year, different departments are providing one component of the baskets in order to make it all come together for families who need them. For example, while the World Language department is donating stuffing, the Art department is providing roasting pans.
“Each teacher is asked to bring in what they can, and together they are expected to yield about 100 baskets total,” Art teacher Laurel Larivee said.
This year, the school ended up donating 84 baskets in total, that included potatoes, stuffing, household toiletries, veggies, desserts, gravy, cranberry sauce, and roaster trays to cook the turkeys.
Last year, the Thanksgiving Baskets were part of Exeter Spirit Week celebration, with students bringing in all kinds of pantry items in order to help those few in need.
“To continue to support food banks, you can donate to year-round ones, like Saint Vincent de Paul pantry in Hampton.” Larivee said. “Food drives certainly help those in need, but they also serve as a reminder that there is always an opportunity to help.”
During these difficult times, it is important that the body of Winnacunnet is looking after one another. Many of the Winnacunnet staff members find that giving back to their communities feels especially rewarding,
“I think the Thanksgiving baskets in particular hit close to home because these are our students,” Social Studies teacher Sarah Trahan said. “We want to make sure everyone has food and taken care of during these tough times when families might feel insecure.”
Talley Westerberg, the head of the Thanksgiving Basket program, knows this year won’t be the same as usual.
“We know that for many families, Thanksgiving will not look like it has in the past because of the pandemic. We are hoping that the Thanksgiving basket distribution provides a bright spot in a difficult time for our Winnacunnet community.”
“I am honored to be a part of this program.” Larivee said. “I think it's wonderful that Winnacunnet is able to give back and support our community.”