Jesuit Community Comes Together to Give Thanks

Posted November 24, 2014 / Last updated November 24, 2014

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(See photos from the 2013 Thanksgiving Drive.) Fr. John Brown, S.J. and students are seen here packing boxes for the 2013 Thanksgiving Drive.

Fr. John Brown, S.J. and students are seen here packing boxes for the 2013 Thanksgiving Drive.

Thanksgiving is a special time at Jesuit High School. The focus of the entire Jesuit community shifts from the lessons of the classroom to the lessons of life. As the students, faculty, staff, and alumni ponder on and give thanks for their blessings, they consider those who have much less, who may even struggle to put food on their table.

Long before Fr. Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Society of Jesus, put the call to service in the simplest of terms, asking us to be “men for others,” the students of Jesuit High School of New Orleans were living this ideal. At least as early as 1927, a Thanksgiving Drive was being organized by the student Sodality, who placed boxes in each classroom for the collection of food items for the city’s poor.

Today, director of community service programs Mr. Kevin Murphy ’00 leads the students in providing Thanksgiving baskets for more than 460 families. Each homeroom provides a Thanksgiving meal for four or five families. A typical approach in the homerooms is to create committees (communications, finance, shopping, packing, and delivery) to accomplish the task.

The drive culminates the day before Thanksgiving—this year on November 26—when classes are replaced with final events and tasks:

5:30 a.m. – Shopping committees, with homeroom teachers in tow, flood Robért’s at West End to purchase perishable items for their baskets. While there, they enjoy a shopping discount and a hot breakfast courtesy of the Robért family.

7:00 a.m. – Back on the farm at Carrollton and Banks, homerooms head to the cooler to receive a turkey for each family, courtesy of the Class of 1983, who for the past 17 years has provided a turkey for every family being fed.

7:30 a.m. – The shopping done, homerooms are putting the final touches on their well-organized baskets.

8:00 a.m. – To pause and reflect on their actions, students convene in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs for a Thanksgiving Drive prayer service. This year, Mr. Julio Minsal-Ruiz, S.J. will help the students focus with his remarks about the meaning of the drive.

9:00 a.m. – The school yard becomes a hub of activity as homerooms move their baskets to their vehicles for delivery. Delivery committees, accompanied by teachers and perhaps a parent or two, make their way to the neighborhoods of the city to brighten the lives of a few hundred families.

Midday – At midday on Wednesday, the drive is complete and students head home to begin their holiday, hopefully satisfied that they have done good work and that they have given of themselves to lighten the burden of others.

Alumni Thanksgiving Drive

Ian Blanchard ’03; Chip Hellmers ’87; John Haas ’03; and Jordan Barbier ’11 pack baskets in the cafeteria for the 2013 Thanksgiving Drive.

Jesuit Alumni Support the Drive – To ensure that as many families as possible are reached, Jesuit alumni provide baskets for 180 families. 

Thanksgiving Day Mass

The entire community of Jesuit High School is invited to a family Mass on Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m. in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs. Please consider beginning your day by joining with other Jesuit families to worship and give thanks.