Holiday Helping

Holiday+Helping

Caroline Saunders, Writer

      The holiday season is all about giving, and that’s what we are seeing in the forge community this year. There are more people in need now than ever and if there is a way we can help, we will. 

      Learn and Serve held this year’s turkey drive on November 17, 2021. The turkey drive is a way to help less fortunate families. They collect turkeys and canned foods for the Fredericksburg Food Bank and for students and their families who are in need.

“A teacher had told me later, like in private, how whatever students had asked for a turkey because he was in need of one. That just made me feel like I did something good,” said Mary Guckian (22’) 

      Members of the Learn and Serve show up at 7:30 a.m. and get ready for the memorable hours to come.

“It was just fun being with my friends. We were listening to Christmas music and just having a good time doing a good thing, it was a great experience,” said Mary (22’) 

      Colonial Forge raised 50 turkeys. Between 4 high schools, they raised 247 turkeys and 140 lbs of canned food. This was a  great way to start this holiday season off!

      Learn and serve will hold another food drive where students can place their uneaten or unopened food items into various collection bins that are located in the cafeteria and by the library. All the food they will raise will go towards the local Fredericksburg food bank to support people who are in need of it. This drive started this week as a test runs for them, so they can work out any issues for the future. 

      “We don’t throw good food away when others starve. Plus it is GREAT from an environmental standpoint: Less waste means less growing/land destruction/transport with fossil fuels/waste of money,” said Konrad Heller

      Rashana Robinson, our school social worker, holds a holiday drive every year. She runs the Holiday Assistance Program for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. This drive helps students and their families in need. “Every person should be able to have a holiday meal, I am just ensuring families who may be struggling are able to provide one for their family,” said Rashana. 

      She collects donations from the community for families to get a meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Before covid, Rashana would collect turkeys and meal kits for families. Due to the pandemic, she has started collecting gift cards instead of food for the safety of the families and ourselves. 

      “With safety precautions last year we felt it was safer to hand out gift cards for families to shop on their own, this year we continued with gift cards,” said Rashana.

This year, there has been an increase in families that are in need. For thanksgiving, 39 families were helped and she is looking at 44 families for Christmas. 

      The counseling department will also be holding a holiday drive similar to the Holiday Assistance Program for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. This drive is called the Gift Help program. They ask around for students in need of food and gifts for any holiday they might celebrate.  Many students and their families celebrate holidays that are different from just the normal Christmas, so they need different things. Especially this year, families might work two jobs to provide for their family or they might not be able to afford food or gifts for their children to have a happy holiday, so the forge community wants to take a little bit of stress off of their shoulders.

      “We wanted to know which students may not be having a plentiful Christmas/Hanukkah or other holidays this year, whether that be due to things such as, but not limited to, recent parent job loss, major illness, or lasting Covid effects on the economy,” said Counselor, Miranda Todd

      Staff and teachers throughout the school have volunteered to sponsor a family and will be providing gifts from a wishlist for them to help whatever the family is not able to provide for this holiday season. The family will send in a list of what they want or need for the holiday times and someone will volunteer to help them with some of the items they are in need of.

      “Sometimes people need help, despite their best efforts, and there is nothing wrong with that. We are just grateful to be able to provide support when we can! Covid has impacted our community in many negative ways and we hope to bring some happiness to students and families who may be struggling otherwise,” said Todd.

      Last year they sponsored half the number of students of this year, and this year they will be sponsoring 38 students. This may be due to recent parent job loss, major illness, or Covid effects on the economy, etc. 

“I don’t disagree that 40 students (or more!) are likely in need, as I am certain the number in actuality is way higher, but these are only the identified families. Some families feel uncomfortable asking for help, as it is a decision that is hard for some to make,” said Miranda

      The American Legion Food Drive was also held this year. This is where volunteers place collection boxes in every school on November 15th and they collect everything on December 16th. The American legion works with Stafford county public schools to put together a list of families that need assistance this time of the year. This drive helps around 250-300 families.

      If a school prefers to do an independent food drive then families can be added to a master list. These families receive a box of food for themselves and their families. In addition to all of the food that was collected from the schools, the American Legion donates a turkey, 5 lb bag of potatoes, a large loaf of sandwich bread, a bag of sugar and flour, and cooking oil for each family. Volunteers are also welcome to go and help sort everything out, pack and distribute the boxes between December 16th and December 18th. If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact [email protected]