Community effort: ESHS raises money for Thanksgiving dinner baskets

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It’s tradition at Eureka Springs High School to provide Thanksgiving baskets for local families in need, but that almost didn’t happen this year.

“Normally we have a group on campus who sponsors this event, and we realized we hadn’t heard anything about it,” said teacher Adam Louderback. “We had less than two weeks to pull it together. We couldn’t do a proper food drive, so we just started throwing money at it.”

Louderback said several clubs worked together on the project, including Rotary Interact, FFA, Skills, the Booster Club and the Art Club. Rotary Interact students attended the Eureka Springs Rotary Club’s regular meeting to explain what was going on, Louderback said, and left with $760. The Booster Club agreed to donate at least $15 per food basket, he said.

Senior Makenzie Meyer said this is the first time she’s seen so many clubs work together on campus.

“Our clubs don’t usually interact very much,” Meyer said. “But when we heard about the lack of Thanksgiving food baskets, we all realized this is very, very important to our community. We needed to come together to support our community and the families in need.”

Sophomore Preston Hyatt agreed.

“We had to band together to give that chance to families who need it,” Hyatt said.

Mowrey said he’s seen everyone come together through the project.

“For the community to do this, it really shows the unity between people,” Mowrey said. “The people in this community want others to be able to have Thanksgiving.”

It costs $1,100 to provide food baskets for 15 families, Louderback said. He said Harts Family Center donated turkeys and Sun Fest Market donated canned food, allowing the clubs to spend money where it was needed.

“Thanks to the community, we’ve got it covered,” he said. “This is the first year we got Sun Fest involved. I figured we have a lot of students that live in that area and shop there.”

The demand is certainly there, Louderback said.

“We already had a list generated of families that were in need and the idea of them going without for the holiday — I don’t think that sat well with some of the students and staff,” Louderback said. “Everybody stepped up, and really in a cool way.”

Mowrey said he’s happy to help with the project.

“It matters, because there are families in this community who won’t be able to have Thanksgiving dinner,” Mowrey said. “Everyone should have their own Thanksgiving.”

It was daunting to realize how much it would cost to put the baskets together, Meyer said.

“It seems like so much, but with everybody in the community helping out, it became such a feasible task,” Meyer said. “It’s incredible to see that total go down and down and down, with small donations. It’s very achievable with the community’s involvement, and that’s inspiring to see.”

In Eureka Springs, Louderback said, it’s common to see the community help those in need.

“It’s not a surprise, but it’s great to be part of something that happened so quickly and without much planning behind it,” Louderback said. “It’s good to see people step up and say, ‘Yeah, we’ll help.’ “

He hopes to offer even more baskets next year, Louderback said.

“We will organize and be better prepared for this year,” Louderback said. “This didn’t happen because of one little group of people. You’ve got a lot of people that are recognizing this is something that needed to happen. It’s good to know you have those good people around to support those who need help.”

Meyer agreed, saying many people don’t understand what it’s like to go hungry, especially during the holidays.

“We definitely take Thanksgiving and our dinners for granted. We don’t even think about people who don’t have them,” Meyer said. “It’s an important way for us to come together as a community. We are helping people come together as a family and have that significant moment we take for granted.”

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