I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about Thanksgiving this year. As we enter into the Thanksgiving and holiday season, I see many examples of people offering to help one another in our schools. I would like to share one example of these acts in our school district and Shiloh community.
We are able to help our students have a good breakfast and lunch while at school, but the weekends brought to some a gap in food availability. To that end, the Weekend Wildcats food program began. The students participating in the program receive a backpack of food each Friday to help their families ensure they are receiving nutritious meals and snacks over the weekend. It originated in the fall of 2015 from a partnership between Shiloh Village School District and Shiloh United Methodist Church.
Students participating in the program are referred by Shiloh faculty and staff and must be on the free-lunch list to qualify. All names of students and their families are kept confidential and are managed by the school social worker. We started with 10 students and have served up to 30 at various times during the school year. The Wildcats program currently benefits 24 students at Shiloh Elementary and Middle schools.
Each week, members from the church and school community meet at Shiloh Middle School to pack the bags and deliver them to pick-up locations at each of the schools, where students or their teachers retrieve the bags for the weekend. Each backpack is packed with a variety of kid-friendly foods and snacks, as well as a few items parents could use to feed the whole family, such as canned vegetables, soups or pastas.
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On long weekends, students often receive a bonus item or an extra bag. Bonus items have included large boxes of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, stuffing and instant mashed potatoes. The program operates on monetary and food donations from school students and staff and the church community. This year, for those families that were interested, the program expanded to provide the food items needed for a Thanksgiving meal. Nine families this year went home with a box full of food for the holiday. Many of the donations for this came from a recent food drive held at both schools, as well as donations from the Shiloh faculty, staff and church community.
We know that many are needy in our area. As we move into the holiday season, please consider one of these things if you are fortunate enough to be able:
▪ Give a little more in the collection plate, or buy a toy for child
▪ Send a little something more to our local shelters, hospital auxiliaries, the United Way, Salvation Army, etc.
▪ Give blood
▪ Buy a book for a child or the library
▪ Give a coworker or neighbor some anonymous help
I am thankful to be in our schools, working alongside teachers and staff that bring tremendous skills to their life’s work of helping children. I am thankful for their kind and caring hearts. I remember a saying I heard several years back regarding the thinking surrounding the season. It went something like this: Thanksgiving comes, by statute once a year, but to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. I am a grateful man to be associated with Shiloh Village School District.