CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — The Cardiff School District’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive was a monumental effort to assist families who might otherwise go without a meal on a day that uses food to exemplify the bounty of gratitude.
“There are so many people who you would never think might not have the means to get a traditional Thanksgiving meal together for their families in this area,” said Susan Walker, a shopper at Seaside Market. “It’s so important that we at least remember and give thanks that our families don’t have to face that crisis.”
In an effort to contribute to the well-being of area families, parents, students and teachers volunteered to put together enough food for 37 family Thanksgiving dinners this year.
Kristin Maxwell, the mother of three children in the district, spearheaded the endeavor. “This is my first year heading the Food Drive and there is, as there always is, more involved in it than I knew!” she exclaimed.
Classrooms started filling their boxes with nonperishable food items on Nov. 1. For the next two weeks, students brought in a steady supply of everything from traditional canned beets and gravy to beans and rice.
Monetary donations helped to cover the cost of pies, flour, eggs and additional perishable goods. A few area stores also donated gift cards to make up the difference.
The week of Nov. 14, volunteers collected food from all the classrooms at Cardiff and Ada Harris Elementary schools and transported it to a central location where it was sorted the following day.
“Overseeing the food drive was very rewarding,” Maxwell said. “I was inspired by how happy people were to contribute.”
“With the donations, we were able to provide large food baskets for 37 families of students in the district,” Maxwell said. While the recipients remain anonymous to the community at large, other students who contributed food were happy to know they were helping other students at their school. “It seems more tangible when my child knows that someone she goes to school with is actually getting the food she is donating,” said Pamela Vincent, a district parent.
“The food drive helps to raise the students’ awareness of hunger issues in our own community and hopefully start the kids thinking about other peoples’ well-being,” Maxwell said.
In fact, the contributions surpassed expectations. “We actually brought in enough donations that we will also be able to provide small grocery gift cards to some of the families at Christmas,” Maxwell said.