Thanksgiving food giveaway benefits 65 PTS families
November 17, 2023
PHOENIX – The Phoenix-Talent School District’s second annual Thanksgiving food bag giveaway culminated Friday as over 60 PTS families dropped by Phoenix Elementary to pick up bags loaded with enough food for a family Thanksgiving meal plus a $50 gift certificate.
Organized by PTS community care specialist Katie McCormick, the giveaway benefited 65 district families – up from 50 a year ago. Most of those picked up the bags Friday evening and a few bags were delivered to families who couldn’t make the trip.
McCormick said the community care team decided to increase the number of food bags by 15 this year because “The need …is tremendous this year; that’s one of the main referrals we get as community care specialists.”
Families identified as those with food insecurities were gifted the baskets. The process of finding those families is multi-tiered.
“We each have a lot of families that we work with on a monthly basis, sometimes on a weekly basis,” McCormick said. “Some of these families also self-referred themselves – we have an online referral system and they said they needed help this Thanksgiving. We also just know from doing home visits or working with them weekly that they need food, and also teachers and friends, a lot of staff throughout the school district, will email us and say, ‘Hey, is this person on your radar? They might need some food – can you check in with them?’ So then we’ll call them and see how they’re doing.”
McCormick secured donations weeks before the event and credited ACCESS, Harry & David, Walmart and Rogue Food Unites as some of the Rogue Valley’s most generous givers to Community Care projects.
“We have such good relationships in this area,” McCormick said. “All you have to do is ask and they’re like, ‘Oh, how can we help? What else do you need?”
McCormick and fellow community care specialist Yesenia Solorzano picked up a van-load of food donations from Sherm’s Food 4 Less three days before the giveaway and another van-load of donations from Harry & David and Walmart on the morning of the giveaway. Stuffing the bags – food items included green beans, mash potatoes and gravy, oranges, cheesecakes and more – required the help of about 15 Phoenix High student volunteers, who arrived at Phoenix Elementary at 1:30 p.m. for the job. Several members of the PTS school board also pitched in.
“They’re just so appreciative and so grateful,” McCormick said of the families that received the food bags.
“We’re going to follow up with them after Christmas, because we don’t want this to be a one-time handoff. We’re adding them to our list and we’re going to follow up with them after the holidays and make sure they have food in January and February. Or if they need counseling services or doctor appointments or dental, anything like that. Usually, if there’s one service they need, chances are they’re going to need a couple more and we’re just kind of that bridge connecting them from a resource to the family.”