Manchester Township High School and various members of the community continued a proud tradition Monday morning, as they cooperated in preparing Thanksgiving baskets to be distributed to needy families in the area on Thursday.
The initiative, dubbed “Helping Hands for Hunger”, is completed through the school’s Peer Leadership Group, led by adviser and faculty member Sarah Thiffault. The club coordinated the activity by working together with area residents and senior citizens, lending the event a unique inter-generational component.
Each of the 211 baskets was made to be identical, containing the exact same items. Foods such as turkey, fresh fruits and vegetables and all the trimmings usually seen on Thanksgiving all went into the baskets, as the volunteers filled them with the speed and efficiency of an assembly line.
“This is fantastic. Ms. Thiffault and her club work wonders, and we are very proud of what they’re doing here,” said Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway, in between his own stocking of items into a Thanksgiving basket.
Two volunteers from the Lakehurst-Manchester Rotary Club also shared their thoughts on participating in Monday’s event.
“This is a great organization. Over 200 people from Manchester and Lakehurst are getting these things, and we’re proud to be part of it,” said Gary DeNoia.
His fellow Rotary member Linda Gallo said, “I’m very happy to do this for the people who need the help.”
Robert Samra, a resident of Leisure Village West, is a veteran of the annual “Helping Hands for Hunger” event, having participated in all four of its previous incarnations prior to Monday.
“This is an excellent thing we’re doing. It’s very well worth trying to get the word out, especially with everything that’s gone on with Hurricane Sandy,” said Samra. “I certainly enjoy it, and I’m happy to be asked to participate.”
Devin Tomei, a junior at Manchester Township High School and member of the Peer Leadership Group, described his feelings on participating in this initiative.
“This means a lot. It’s nice to be able to give back to the community, and know that people will be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner and have a good holiday. We have a lot of great volunteers doing a good job,” said Tomei.
Senior student and Peer Leadership Group member Nicole Naclerio also commented.
“It’s a wonderful thing how the community can come together and make the baskets,” said Naclerio.
Local volunteers who were making their initial foray into “Helping Hands for Hunger” were equally happy with their participation.
“We’re enjoying the fact that we get to help people out. It’s our first time with the event, and it’s a good time to do it,” said event volunteers Beverly Kula and Eileen Graziano.