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College fills Thanksgiving baskets for St. Mary’s families

November 25, 2008

Twenty large laundry baskets and bins stuffed with the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal were assembled by staff and faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

News of the community service project in the dean’s office, which had a goal of filling five baskets, quickly spread to other units in the college. In three weeks 20 baskets weighting 818 pounds, were collected and delivered to the food bank.

“The college has participated in food drives in the past, yet this opportunity was more focused, allowing donors to connect with recipients. It wasn’t just bringing in cans of food, but rather, a specific item or a spice for a Thanksgiving meal,” says Rebecca Albrecht, director of special events for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Because there was a range of items going into the baskets, people could participate at any level, from a single can of corn or a $10 gift card or a board game.”

St. Mary’s told the college that the baskets were earmarked for students and recent graduates of their Community Kitchen Program. The training program helps individuals who struggle with unemployment and poverty gain the skills necessary for a job that offers a living wage, benefits and opportunities for advancement in the food service industry, according to St. Mary’s.

“These baskets will be a true blessing to our students and their families,” wrote Sandra Freyer, director of programs at the food bank.

In addition to the dean’s office, also participating in the service project were: the schools of International Letters and Cultures, Life Sciences, Human Evolution and Social Change, Justice and Social Inquiry, Human Communication; and several departments and programs including mathematics and statistics, physics, philosophy, military science, history, Jewish studies, chemistry and biochemistry; and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.

Declaring the Thanksgiving project a success, the staff in the dean’s office is now working with the local Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program to provide gifts and necessities for at least three families during the holiday season.

The Recruit Sustainment Program provides resources and support to newly enlisted soldiers and their families, Albrecht says.

“Some of them are on track to be deployed soon,” she notes.