Jesuit Thanksgiving Drive Feeds 522 Families
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, Blue Jays were once again given the opportunity to serve the New Orleans community in Jesuit High School’s annual Thanksgiving Drive. Not only does the drive provide students the chance to serve, but it also reminds each member of the Jesuit family that St. Ignatius’s “Prayer for Generosity” is more than just words. It is a call to action.
Blue Jays answered that call to action, generously serving 522 families across the New Orleans area.
The heart of the Thanksgiving drive is the homeroom collection of food items. Each homeroom is given five families (and some homerooms take on a few extra) for whom they collect canned foods and the money to purchase perishable groceries on the day of the delivery. Homerooms receive letters from the families requesting a Thanksgiving meal and contact them weeks ahead to schedule delivery or pickup times. Student organizations and clubs volunteer to take on families as well, even on top of the families students serve through homeroom.
Plenty of support comes from alumni who look forward to donating their time and energy to the drive each year. The Class of 1983 “turkey class” purchases the turkeys for every Thanksgiving basket that is distributed from Carrollton and Banks. Alumni also volunteer to supply, sort, hand out, and deliver the 180 baskets that they contribute to the drive. Some classes adopt families for a class project: the Class of ’79 (10 families), Class of ’97 (13), Class of ’02 (5), Class of ’07 (25), Class of ’13 (10), Class of ’15 (5), and the Class of ’18 (2).
The Thanksgiving Drive Moment by Moment
5:30 a.m. Shopping
The day begins at Robért Fresh Market where students, faculty, and staff meet to purchase the perishable goods needed to complete the baskets already begun with non-perishable food items collected in homeroom. The grocery store fills quickly as people pack the aisles, carefully checking off their lists and accounting for every penny raised during the month.
7 a.m. Basket Packing
After shopping, students return to campus and work with classmates to prepare baskets for delivery. Each homeroom packs three or more boxes with food items, and several clubs, athletic teams, and organizations prepare additional baskets. The yard is double- and even triple-parked as students ferry bursting baskets from classrooms to their cars.
8 a.m. Prayer Service
Prior to delivery, the school community gathers in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs for a Thanksgiving prayer service. The service beings with a procession of the colors by the MCJROTC and the procession of clergy. After readings from scripture, a senior speaker and a faculty speaker address the students, faculty, alumni, and parents gathered in the chapel. This year Mr. Mat Grau ’68, Jesuit’s alumni director, and senior Brennan Walker were the featured speakers. The service concluded with the congregation singing the Jesuit Alma Mater and God Bless America.
8:30 a.m. Delivery
A very special part of the drive is setting out after the prayer service to greet members of the community in the delivery process. Certain students from each homeroom volunteer to load the items into their cars and drop off a full Thanksgiving meal – a very often much more – to families in the New Orleans area. Families are eager to sort the groceries and start cooking for their holiday meal on Thanksgiving day.