Parkway Elementary makes Thanksgiving donation to Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey

The Mt. Laurel school’s Circle of Giving Club once again delivered food and decorations for families staying at the house this season.

For the students, staff and families of Mt. Laurel’s Parkway Elementary School, the circle of giving continues.

Fourth-grade students from the school’s Circle of Giving Club once again swarmed the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey in Camden this week to deliver food and decorations for families staying at the house during the Thanksgiving holiday.

As with other Ronald McDonald House sites across the country, the house provides a place for families to stay while children seek medical treatment at nearby facilities.

Yet for the site in Camden, a unique connection to Parkway Elementary dates back more than 20 years to former teacher Linda Vosbikian.

Vosbikian created the Circle of Giving Club at Parkway in the 1990s in memory of her son Kirk — a student at the school who passed away from cancer.

With the club, Vosbikian wanted to bring the students and families of Parkway together to make a positive impact in the world around them.

While carrying out that mission, Vosbikian connected with the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, and the tradition of making a Thanksgiving donation to the facility in Camden each year was born.

As in years past, 2018 saw the Parkway community collect turkeys, gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetables, pies, juices, fruits, utensils and anything else needed to provide a warm, welcoming Thanksgiving to those families staying the house this season.

Leading up to the event, students also used their art classes to create cards, placemats, centerpieces and other Thanksgiving decorations to help decorate the house as well.

“The kids are so excited to be here,” said third-grade teacher Wendy Smith, who took on the role as co-advisor for the Circle of Giving Club when Vosbikian retired. “All week long we’ve had a countdown to today. They’re so excited to come and deliver the food.”

Third-grade teacher Kristen Cloud, the club’s other co-advisor, echoed Smith’s sentiments.

“It’s kids helping kids,” Cloud said.

One such student was fourth-grader Lindsey Doyle, who said she was happy to know that other people would be happy because of the positive actions of her and her fellow students.

“We have so much to give … and everybody is very happy to be here and so excited,” Lindsey said. “As soon as we saw this place on the bus, we were so excited because we all love doing this.”

Also on hand for this week’s delivery was Ann “Teddy” Thomas, who serves as the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey.

Thomas said donations from the Parkway community would be able to provide Thanksgiving dinner for about 100 people — 25 families currently living at the site and additional relatives who sometimes attend as well.

“The circle of giving is alive and well at Parkway,” Thomas said. “It takes a whole community to make it possible for us to be able to take care of everyone all year long.”

To learn more about the Ronald McDonald House of Southern NJ, visit www.ronaldhouse-snj.org.