The Monroe Township Middle School Builders Club and township police are getting ready for their annual turkey giveaway on Nov. 23.
The Builders Club is a community service organization that involves students from fifth to eighth grade. Most years, this club consists of about 350 students, but because of COVID, it now has about 200. Students participate in activities that include creating holiday cards for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and area nursing homes.
“When this event started, it was only 10 families,” said club advisor Krystal Kuni. “And now we help anywhere between 100 to 150. We have so much support from the school and the community.”
The turkey giveaway has been run by the club for about 30 years. It helps feed families in need throughout the school district, with food donations collected in mid-October to serve about 150 local families.
“I know it is a Builders Club-run thing,” said Katie Preto, also an advisor. “But it has really evolved into something that everyone helps with. It is really everyone coming together to help those who need it.”
The giveaway consists of three types of bags distributed to families. One is filled with breakfast necessities such as cereal, fruit and pancake mix. Another includes all the Thanksgiving accessories, from cranberry sauce to green beans and stuffing. The third bag is packed with emergency meals like mac and cheese, canned tuna and pasta.
“Everyone gets one of each,” Preto explained. “We are anticipating people calling the week before asking for help. So we always make extra, knowing people may need last-minute help.”
Once donations are collected and organized, students are brought in to help make up the bags. Due to COVID, fewer students can participate this year, but there will still be two to three of them with an adult who will pack the bags the entire week before delivery.
“We have an assembly line: All of the items are color coded that go into specific bags,” said Kuni. “We usually do this in one day, in one hour, with the amount of help that we get …”
Monroe Township police officers — on or off duty and retired — will pack up their cars on the 23rd and deliver the meals.
“Our FOP, in conjunction with the school, will get a turkey, a box of stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce,” said Police Chief David Dailey. “Depending on how many officers we have, they could have five to eight different deliveries per officer to go pass out food.”
The Builder’s Club is also preparing for its annual Christmas collection of toys and clothes for local children. The Monroe school district will create a list of clothing sizes, gender and ages so students and faculty can provide gifts.
Parents or students who would like to help with the turkey giveaway should have received an email about opportunities to participate. Anyone outside the school district who would like to help can drop off donations at any of the main school offices. Cash donations will be accepted.