Student organizations partner with local business for Thanksgiving food drive


Kya Schepker

Students prepare to pack Thanksgiving food drive baskets. They included: (front row) sophomore Breanna Winfrey, juniors Lily Waller, Arianna Herrick and Izabelle Reed; (back row) sophomore Benjamin Kowal, junior Luke Rasberry, senior Mackenzie Gemes and junior Cody Lytton.

Thanksgiving is a holiday often celebrated with a delicious feast and time spent with family, but some families are not able to afford a glamorous meal during this time of year and rely on the generosity of others during this season of giving. In an attempt to give back to the community, a local business owner, Donald Graham from InkLogics, teamed up with the WHS Student Council and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) to host a Thanksgiving food drive.
“When I was younger,” Graham said, “I talked to my teachers about hosting a food drive so I know that schools will pull together for a good cause, especially if it’s to help the community.”
“In the past, FCCLA has hosted a traditional fall food drive for the Benton County food pantry in October, in conjunction with the No Child Hungry campaign,” FCCLA Advisor Suzie Dudenhoeffer said. “This year, FCCLA joined with StuCo and decided to do our food drive differently.”
“[Thanksgiving is] just being in the spirit of giving to others that might not have what everybody else has,” Student Council Co-Sponsor Bobbi Swisher said. “Not everybody can afford a good meal with their family and some people might fall in between that they don’t have food stamps or they don’t have enough money to pay for it and filling in that gap is awesome.”
FCCLA/ProStart students were responsible for drafting a list of non-perishable items that would make a good Thanksgiving meal, such instant mashed potatoes, canned green beans, canned pie fillings, stuffing mix, and miscellaneous canned goods.
“We basically gave them everything except the turkey,” Swisher said.

We basically gave them everything except the turkey.”

— math teacher Bobbi Swisher

The list was sent out to the teachers in the high school who, when they signed up, pledged their class(es) to bring 20 of whatever item they chose.
“I bought a few [cans of green beans], but it was mostly my students. I did it in two classes and I just bribed them,” business teacher Bethany Siegel said. “They get a food day and a movie if they brought stuff in and I would have given them that anyways, but don’t tell them that.”
“We were to shoot for 20 items, one for each basket, because we hoped that the kids would be willing to bring it in and, if they didn’t, then it wouldn’t be a lot for the teachers to purchase,” Swisher said.
Since many of the teachers in the high school chose to bring in food items for the baskets, students were sometimes asked to bring in items for multiple classes. Junior Jake McShane brought in food for two of his classes.
“I brought food for Ms. Swisher and Mr. Waller’s class,” McShane said. “Why not bring in food? Other people need to eat because they might not have stuff to eat.”
Once all of the food was collected, the Thanksgiving baskets were packed on Nov. 19 and Graham delivered them to the Warsaw Community Center and to the local chapter of an organization called “Guardians of the Children.”
“Guardians of the Children sponsored twelve families for Thanksgiving and each one of those families got a basket,” Graham said.
Though Thanksgiving has passed, the season of giving still continues and there are many ways to give back to the community and nation during these times.
“I put food in the Blessing Box in town all the time because if I was in their position I would want somebody to help me,” Siegel said. “I think that our society is just used to taking and taking and not used to giving and helping others and realizing that, when you’re fortunate, you should pay it forward instead of hoarding your good fortune.”
“There are a lot of people who can’t afford to have all the stuff that the more fortunate people have,” Warsaw FCCLA Chapter President Benjamin Kowal said. “One of the Cs in FCCLA stands for ‘Community,’ so I think it’s important to live up to our name and give back to the community.”

There are a lot of people who can’t afford to have all the stuff that the more fortunate people have.”

— FCCLA President sophomore Benjamin Kowal

Other opportunities to give back to the community for the holiday season is to collect gifts for “Adopt a Family,” “Christmas for Kids,” “Toys for Tots,” or donating food to the Benton County Food Bank in Warsaw.