Thanksgiving is a time of the year where we step back from our hectic lives and take the time to recognize and appreciate all the good that encompasses our lives. It is much more than football and turkeys: it is a time for unifying, enjoying a feast with your loved ones, and giving thanks. Not every family can afford to hold a feast for this special holiday, which is where volunteer and charity programs can really make a difference. For these programs, Thanksgiving is not just a time for thanks, but for giving back to the community that they love. This sentiment is expressed greatly by Hills West’s own Interact Club and their annual turkey drive.
Lead by Mr. Stein and its president Ben Novotny, Hills West’s Interact Club holds an annual turkey drive in which they supply over a hundred turkeys and 25 dollar gift cards to families in need in our community. The turkey drive takes place in the Hills West cafeteria, where members of the Interact Club bag turkeys along with wishful notes, and prepare them to be transported to various churches and organizations that with distribute them to families in need. Members of the club gain instant gratification knowing that their efforts are directly going to put food on the tables of these families. Interact Club member Jordyn Blaustein stated happily, “I participated last year and it was really fun. It’s important to help people in need because if you ever need help, you would want someone to help you, and this way, I get to help these families directly.” She also expressed thanks to the Melville Rotary Club which not only raises funds for and purchased the turkeys and gift cards, but directly participates and oversees the Interact Club’s turkey drive.
With its mantra “service above self”, the Melville Rotary Club is dedicated to serving the community, and has done so for 51 years. The Melville Rotary Club created and supports the Interact Club at High School West, especially for special events such as the turkey drive. The club fundraisers and its members also donate money in order to purchase the turkeys involved in the drive. These turkeys are then bagged and prepared at High School West by the Interact Club members, and they are picked up by or sent to various organizations for distribution. When asked about this year’s successful turkey drive, Melville Rotary Club member Bobbi Feigenbaum stated, “It seems High School West students are more in time tune with giving back these days, and feel more of an obligation to their neighbors. It’s nice to see the club grow over the years”. The turkey drive in particular has seen some changes over the years, as in previous years the drive used to feature canned items and other Thanksgiving foods such as corn and potatoes, but as times changed and culture evolved, these goods were replaced with gift cards so that individual families with different backgrounds can choose and buy what they want to eat with their turkeys. When asked what she would like to see in the future, Vice President Kimberly Gilgeours stated that she wished to purchase more turkeys and gift cards for more families, and hoped that parents of students and other members of the community be more active in supplying families in need with food this holiday season, but was overwhelming pleased with the turnout and amount of willing and dedicated student and staff at this year’s drive. Secretary Alan Schoenberger and Former President Brian Maher also oversaw this year’s event, and expressed pride and gratitude towards Hills West students and staff for their help and support.
This year’s turkey drive was prosperous and successful thanks to the work of our Interact Club and Melville Rotary Club. These groups not only better our community, but also unite the students, faculty , and community to get involved in their communities and make a difference.