OCE collects Turkey and Trimmings Food Baskets

Nicole Yeager, Contributing Writer

Each year, the University hosts a program through the Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) to collect food for local families around the Thanksgiving season. The OCE’s mission is to help students explore the world outside the classroom by providing community service and service-learning opportunities. Along with their ongoing programs, they also offer one-time opportunities that allow all students to get involved. 

One of these programs is the Turkey and Trimmings Holiday Food Baskets. The program started at the University in response to a need in the local community around food security, especially during the holidays, and has now been running for over 10 years.

In order to get the most out of the program, the OCE partners with multiple organizations from the local community that provide them with a list of the families that will be receiving baskets. “Our partner organizations provide us with the information we need to make sure we provide a basket for the families who could benefit from one, and also help us get these baskets to said families,” Sarah Wochele, an AmeriCorps volunteer in the OCE, said.

All members of the University community can donate food baskets that are able to feed a family of four or more, or can even give gift cards for food. The baskets contain: a gift certificate for a turkey, two boxes of stuffing, two boxes of potatoes, two cans of cranberry sauce, two cans of vegetables, and one can of gravy. All baskets are dropped off at the Office of Civic Engagement, located to the right of the entrance to Bertrand Library.

“Once the baskets get here we have a pretty excellent system for organizing them and matching families to baskets based on family and basket size. The baskets will then be delivered to our partner organizations. These organizations will then ensure that the families receive them,” Wochele said. This year, 106 families requested a food basket through the program. 

The Turkey and Trimmings Holiday Food Baskets program is beneficial for both the families receiving them and the individuals donating them. Struggling with food security is incredibly difficult and can be a burden on many families, especially during the holiday season. Receiving support during this time can feel heartening and create a sense of human connection. On the other side, donating these baskets can also boost one’s own holiday spirits. 

The OCE works to get all students and community members involved in the program by reaching out to different clubs and organizations, including Greek life, and providing various opportunities.

“The best part of the program is walking into the Office of Civic Engagement each day and seeing the number of baskets growing from one to 100 and knowing that people in the area are going to be able to enjoy them with their loved ones,” Wochele said.

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