Eureka FBLA students host food drive for Thanksgiving baskets adadadasd

Friday, November 10, 2017

No family should go hungry on Thanksgiving. That’s what Eureka Springs High School’s Future Business Leaders of America believe, and they’re doing something about it.

The local FBLA chapter is hosting a food drive to provide 30 Thanksgiving dinner baskets for families in need. Sherry Sullivan, FBLA adviser, said there’s a contest at the high school to ensure those baskets are full. The advisory class that brings the most non-perishable items, senior Natalie Royal said, will have a pizza party courtesy of FBLA.

Along with the non-perishable items, Sullivan said, the students are purchasing gift cards for perishable items and have received several gift cards from the community. Some of these gift cards will go toward a turkey, Sullivan said, but it’s just as important to have perishable items.

“When I first started this, we couldn’t give as much perishable goods as I wanted to,” Sullivan said. “It was hard to keep butter in my room and milk and eggs. We figured with a lot of this stuff we give them … you know they need other things like milk for the day.”

Fortunately, Sullivan said, the community is generous. She said the students have received more donations than she can count, including a donation drop-off at Harts Family Center. All the items donated at Harts, Sullivan said, will be included in the Thanksgiving baskets.

“The community is very, very helpful. I have several businesses that give us gift cards,” Sullivan said. “People personally will give us gift cards.”

Sullivan credited her students with getting the baskets together, saying they raise money all year to be able to fill the baskets. The students use that money to buy Thanksgiving dinner staples, like canned corn, canned green beans, canned peas, cornbread mix, pie crust, canned evaporated milk, pumpkin pie mix, box cakes, canned cake icing, applesauce, canned fruit, box stuffing, boxed instant potatoes, canned soup, canned cranberries, canned gravy, cereal and canned sweet potatoes.

“The students give quite a bit of money, and they raise money,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan remembered when FBLA started the Thanksgiving basket fundraiser years ago. The reason she encouraged her students to help families, Sullivan said, is because she saw how many families are in need in Eureka Springs.

“I always wanted to do something for the community. There are a lot of people that need help in town, more than people in the town know about,” Sullivan said.

The families pick up the baskets at the high school, Sullivan said, and her students deliver them at the door.

“That means a lot to them, because they’re seeing how people react to a gift being given to them,” Sullivan said. “I’ve had people say, ‘How do I put this on my car seat so I can give you your basket back?’ and we have to let them know they get that basket, and more tears come.”

Senior Jordon Henley, president of the Eureka Springs FBLA, said there are no leaders when it comes to the Thanksgiving baskets.

“We all work together. We don’t have a leader. We all work together as a group,” Henley said. “We all try to ask people, ‘Please bring some cans in please.’ We ask family members. We ask relatives to bring cans we can donate to this.”

She added, “We’re working together, but we’re all leaders in a sense, because we’re doing this for a larger cause and we’re working together as a whole. I feel that’s a very important aspect as a leader, to be able to work together.”

It’s especially vital to work together on an project like this, Henley said, when you live in a small town like Eureka Springs.

“It’s really important to focus on the less fortunate families. We don’t really think there are that many, but there are,” Henley said. “To be able to do this and to be able to have families that are more fortunate come in and even less fortunate families bring cans to give and share with people in the community that can’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner … it’s really great to see.”

Royal agreed.

“It feels like we’re actually making a difference, because our town is so small and it’s so easy for people to not be recognized,” Royal said. “When we’re doing this, we’re helping everybody. We’re going out to make a difference and to make our town better.”

Being part of the project, senior Syama Barden said, has shown him the ways he can support the less fortunate.

“It’s such an accessible way to help your community, and it’s right there in front of you,” Barden said. “We’re learning about giving back to the community. I think it’s a really good project that needs some more attention.”

Seeing her students help others, Sullivan said, makes her feel proud.

“I’ve always told them on Thanksgiving day when they sit down at their tables to realize that as a whole they have fed 30 other families that would normally not have a Thanksgiving dinner,” Sullivan said. “I am trying to teach my students through FBLA to be better and to think of other other people besides themselves.”

It’s not too late to help, Henley said. She encouraged everyone to donate to the food drive before the baskets are distributed Nov. 16.

“We do have baskets sitting at Harts that we are asking other community members to donate to. If they buy some cans at Harts, they can put them in there,” Henley said. “We will collect those and put them with everything else. It’s not just FBLA doing this. It’s not just Eureka Springs School that is helping. We want the whole community to get involved and raise awareness.”

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