Alumni Give Back During 2016 Thanksgiving Drive

Posted November 22, 2016 / Last updated November 28, 2016

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Mike Varisco '83 steers a giant pallet of goods off the truck and inside for packing.

Mike Varisco ’83 steers a giant pallet of goods off the truck and inside for packing.

On Tuesday, alumni from the 1950s through the 2010s returned to their alma mater to participate in Jesuit’s annual Thanksgiving Drive, which spans two weeks and unites past and current students in feeding more than 400 families in need throughout the greater New Orleans area. At least as early as 1927, a Thanksgiving Drive was being organized by the student Sodality, which placed boxes in each classroom to collect food items for the city’s less fortunate. Alumni participation began in earnest 20 years ago, and continues to foster greater turn out each fall in support of the nearly 100-year-old tradition.

Check Out the Alumni Thanksgiving Drive Photo Gallery

Efforts kicked off earlier this month when John Hazard ’83 spoke to students at Morning Assembly. The Class of 1983 provides enough turkeys not only for alumni-designated baskets, accounting for more than 180 families, but also for the 300 student-donated baskets. In his address, Hazard connected past and present Blue Jays in the spirit of giving.

“The men who began this [turkey drive] 20 years ago laid the foundation for understanding the phrase ‘Men for Others,’” Hazard said. “I know you hear it a lot, but it’s something we’ve taken action to embrace.”

In addition to 1983’s providing support for the turkeys, throughout November alumni donate the funds necessary to give families a complete holiday meal. This portion of the Thanksgiving Drive alone costs about $9,000, and a group of alumni from the 1980s coordinate class-level appeals dedicated to meeting this expense. On campus, their efforts ramp up two days before Thanksgiving when members of the Alumni Association, as well as their families, construct and fill boxes with the non-perishable food items they have gathered. Several alumni classes also adopt families and organize individual boxes.

The Alumni Association then meets early Wednesday to top off baskets with perishable items. The drive culminates mid-morning with basket delivery as alumni, students, faculty, and parents help brighten the lives of several hundred families.

Thank you to all of the alumni helping make this year’s drive a success!