Thanksgiving basket drive steers students into lending a hand

by: Monica Jaramillo

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Thanksgiving is the time when families gather together around a table to share a meal and enjoy one another’s company. However, there are some who are not as fortunate. Luckily, the Rider community has once again stepped in to lend a hand.

Rider University came together to collect various items so that families in need can share a Thanksgiving meal together. The Bonner Program, which runs the Thanksgiving Basket Drive at Rider each year, worked hard all day on November 16th to create baskets filled with the essentials a family will need to have a Thanksgiving meal.  Students involved are proud to be part of something special and serve the surrounding communities around Rider.

“To be one of the individuals with that ability to make a difference means a lot,” said sophomore Bonner member Jalyssa James. “Bonners dedicate 300 hours of service every year because giving back is what we love to do. It’s all a great experience.”

The Bonner program was aided by the various student organizations and clubs around Rider who collected items to be put into the baskets being sent out. Annie Pasqua, assistant director of campus life for service learning and coordinator of the basket drive, is looking forward to another successful year and hopes to help many more families.

“This year we’ve had a lot of support from student organizations and clubs. We think that this year we will exceed the amount we collected last year.”

Last year, volunteers assembled around 150 baskets to distribute around the community.

Donations collected by the Rider community for annual Thanksgiving basket drive.

When they first began Wednesday morning, there were 111 baskets.  Later, a generous Rider alumnus brought in 40 more baskets and the team expected that by the end of the day they would have 200 baskets to distribute to the families.

Various students from the morning until around six in the evening worked hard to carefully put together meal baskets. They made sure each family would get everything needed to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

They placed items such as sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, canned goods and many more basic essentials. By providing the families these items, they are giving them the chance to be able to share a thanksgiving meal together. Providing the families the baskets allowing them to share a meal on Thanksgiving was the program’s goal for this year’s basket drive.

The baskets will be sent to families in need to areas surrounding Rider University. Receiving the baskets are Mill Hill and Grace Community Center, as well as a few more in the area.

According to Pasqua, this year has been successful and the turnout was wonderful.  There were dozens of donations and more continued to appear as the night came to a close, showing that people were finding every way they could to pitch in to help the community.

Thanksgiving is not just about eating delicious food, but also about being thankful for all we have and to help those who have less. The Thanksgiving basket drive is something to be thankful for because Rider students took the time and effort to make another’s Thanksgiving brighter.

“Some people are in the position to help others in need, but don’t take the initiative,” said James, who believes that if you can help out another, you should.

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