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Advisories participate in annual Thanksgiving Common Pantry donation

Sandhya Shyam

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This Thursday, volunteers from the New York Common Pantry stopped by to pick up food donations that the school community contributed as a part of the organization’s annual Thanksgiving food drive.
According to Chair of the Library Department Caroline Bartels, the school’s donations this year are helping feed 102 families in New York City.
Students and faculty participated by donating food through advisory. Each advisory was assigned a bag to fill with various foods such as boxes of stuffing or brownie mix.
“I think it’s a really nice tradition to have because it makes an impact outside of the HM bubble,” Lucinda Li (12) said. “And it’s good timing too because we’re all probably shopping for Thanksgiving too, so we wouldn’t be going out of our way to buy things.”
There was also an option to donate money instead of purchasing food, specifically $40 to feed approximately a family of four. Many members of the staff opted to do this because they are not a part of advisory groups, Bartels, who organizes the event, said.
“I felt like it would’ve been a lot more effective to just donate money,” Sonia Shuster (9) said. “I think there are so many more complications with donating food, like buying things people might be allergic to.”
Everyone’s participation was voluntary, because some students did not have the means to buy food, Bartels said.
On Tuesday afternoon, student volunteers organized and boxed up the bags’ contents by type of food for the NY Common Pantry, Bartels said. After the organization picks up the food, they distribute each type of food into shopping bags that are then given to families in need, she said.
“It was hard this year because it was a bit truncated since we got the list of things we could contribute a little late,” Bartels said. “But I still think we gave a great donation.”
The organization did not contact Bartels this year, so she reached out to them, and therefore received the list with not much time to spare, she said.
The NY Common Pantry is a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to reducing hunger throughout New York City,” its mission statement said. The organization had previously been working solely with the Middle Division on their annual Souper Bowl, a soup drive where all the proceeds went to the organization.
A representative from the organization contacted Bartels three years ago to get the Upper Division involved as well, Bartels said.
The first year, Bartels organized a basic food drive open for anyone to contribute to, she said. “We did okay,” she said. “We gathered enough food and money that it worked out to feed about 50 people,” she said.
“But last year, by doing it by advisory, we were able to feed about 140 people,” she said.
Bartels thought that organizing the drive by advisory groups made it a lot more of an effective and “thoughtful process,” she said. “To me, it feels like our little advisory ‘family’ giving to another family in need,” she said.
Advisories were also asked to write a reflective note to the organization about why they decided to participate. Adding this aspect helped people to stop and think about why they were giving as opposed to just giving, Bartels said.
However, some advisors ignored or missed the request because of last week’s events, Bartels said.
Akida Joseph (11) felt like the experience was too impersonal, she said. “It feels like instead of being involved, we’re just buying things and giving money,” she said. “I think it would be a lot better if we invited families to a communal meal.”
In the future, Bartels hopes to organize trips that advisories can make to the NY Common Pantry on the day that they distribute food to families to possibly help out, she said. “It would be a step further in being involved.”
“There are so many New Yorkers who don’t have the means to have a Thanksgiving dinner,” Bartels said. “Thanksgiving’s an American holiday, not a religious one, that’s all about people coming together to give thanks for what they have,” Bartels said.
“We as HM students are privileged,” Karen Jang (11) said. “I was really glad that I could help families don’t have the luxuries that we do.”
“I hope after a few years the food drive will eventually become a part of the fabric of what we do at this time of year,” she said.

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Advisories participate in annual Thanksgiving Common Pantry donation