Thanksgiving Drive Underway! 1983’s Liberto, Jordan Rally the Troops

Posted November 8, 2019 / Last updated November 13, 2019

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1983 classmates at Friday Morning Assembly on Nov. 8 were the following: alumni director Mike Prados, René Alvarez, Eric Derbes, Turkey Drive co-chair Greg Jordan, co-chair and spokesperson Vince Liberto, class captain Mark Wegmann, Brian North, and Malcolm Schwarzenbach

For many in the Jesuit community, November holds special significance as a time for reflection and giving, the primary tenets of the school’s mission to develop men of faith and men for others. This mission is no more apparent than in the school’s annual Thanksgiving Drive, which spans two weeks and unites alumni and current students in feeding more than 520 needy families throughout the greater New Orleans area.

To say that the Class of 1983 is among those who most look forward to this time of year would be an understatement. For more than two decades, class members have embraced the drive as a means of helping the less fortunate and connecting with younger Jays in the spirit of service. At Friday’s Morning Assembly, community service director Kevin Murphy ’00 announced the opening of the drive and introduced co-chairs Vince Liberto ’83 and Greg Jordan ’83, who represented their class by encouraging the Blue Jay faithful to join the efforts to be men for others.

Watch Liberto’s and Jordan’s Morning Assembly Address

Liberto provided students with examples of the great men in Jesuit’s history who have put serving others before serving themselves.

“If St. Ignatius of Loyola walked through the yard today,” Liberto argued, “he wouldn’t recognize the color blue…he wouldn’t recognize the academic accolades, but he would recognize the Turkey Drive. When Professor [Michael] Cupero wrote the fight song and the alma mater, it wasn’t about bringing glory and honor to him, it was about the service. When Mr. [Don] Wetzel [’46] invented the ATM…it wasn’t about the accolades or the money, it was about the service. Because if Jesuit is great at all, men…it’s about the service.”

Blue Jays cheered loudly for Liberto as he cleared the stage for Jordan.

“This school is academically challenging so that you can be intellectually strong…so that you can be in a position to do more for others,” Jordan said before he shifted the focus from everyday service to Thanksgiving Drive service. “As you contemplate Thanksgiving week, the baskets, the turkeys, and as you make your deliveries, please absorb your surroundings when you walk into those houses—the need you will see, the gratitude you will get, and the joy you will get when you leave. If you were like me 37 years ago, you will say to yourselves, ‘I want to do more, I need to do more.'”

Over the next two weeks, each homeroom will need to do more. Every student will bring in canned goods and other items to fill at least five Thanksgiving baskets. Students will also collect the funds necessary to complete the baskets with perishable items such as a eggs, bread, and milk. The drive will culminate on Nov. 26 and 27, when student and alumni teams spend two days shopping for, packing, and delivering these baskets to hundreds of families in need. Thanks to the Class of 1983’s work, each basket distributed will contain the Thanksgiving meal’s centerpiece, the turkey.

Accompanying Liberto and Jordan at assembly were classmates Malcolm Schwarzenbach, Eric Derbes, René Alvarez, Brian North, alumni director Mike Prados, English teacher Jack Culicchia, math teacher John Lavie, and social studies teacher Jay Combe. Each year the 1983 committee appeals to their classmates to provide the funds not only to purchase the turkeys for that year, but also to grow an endowment that will fully fund the turkey drive. Alumni from all over the world support the drive through manual labor, donations, and prayer.