Not Just Talkin' Turkey
As it does every year, all corners of the Rowan community came together for the 2011 Thanksgiving season to help feed the hungry.
From athletics to academics, students, faculty and staff raised cash and food donations to support the Adopt-A-Family holiday program and this year provided complete Thanksgiving meal baskets to 54 southern New Jersey families, the greatest number since the program began more than a decade ago.
The baskets, which range in value from about $60 for a small family to over $100 for a large family, provide a variety of holiday food items including mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie filling and a supermarket gift card to purchase a turkey or ham.
Donating as individuals and in groups, baskets were provided from virtually every corner of campus including Greek organizations, the hockey and football teams, the student center staff, the Bursar's office and various academic departments.
"People care about this program and really support it," said Andrew Perrone, assistant director of Rowan's Office of Service Learning, Volunteerism and Community Engagement, which organizes the annual food drive. "The idea is that every participating group provides as least enough for a full Thanksgiving meal but many provide a good bit more."
Often, he said, donors also provide breakfast foods, candy, even holiday plates and napkins to make the dinner a little more special.
"Thanksgiving is about more than food and it's touching to see the smaller, simple but meaningful gestures our students, faculty and staff made," Perrone said.
In addition to food baskets, members of the Rowan community donated cash to buy holiday turkeys and hams to help feed the hungry through the Food Bank of South Jersey.
Meal baskets were delivered to families before Thanksgiving through the state Division of Youth and Family Services and through the Boys and Girls Club of Glassboro and Paulsboro.
Perrone said the holiday food drive will feed even more people than expected this year, far exceeding the initial goal of 30 families.
"This year, with so many people out of work, it feels even more important to participate in the larger community and people at Rowan get that," Perrone said.
Julia England, treasurer for the Rowan chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, presented a large basket of food for the drive as well as additional funds to support the Food Bank on behalf of her organization.
"Especially now, during the holiday season, it's important to take the time to appreciate how much we have to be thankful for and to try to help others," said England, 20, a junior math and elementary education major from Tabernacle.
She said Colleges Against Cancer, a collegiate support network to the American Cancer Society, is a great way to volunteer one's time and energy because virtually everyone knows someone who's been affected by the disease.
"Volunteerism is important and everyone has something they can do," England said. "Maybe you can donate time. Maybe you can donate money. The main thing is to do something because, as you do, you're not just helping others, you're helping develop yourself."