Thanksgiving food bags are a tradition on Fresno campus
Each year since 1991, San Joaquin Valley College’s Fresno campus has counted on the generosity of staff, faculty and students to help provide a Thanksgiving dinner for their students in need. This year, 25 students were nominated by those who work, learn and teach beside them throughout the year.
So many students who come to SJVC for career education discover something they had not counted on. Friendships develop in the natural course of classroom teamwork and often last far beyond graduation. Those budding friendships grow as students share information about their homes, families and very often those struggles that threaten to quash their dreams of a better future.
Program directors, instructors and support staff also see the signs of someone hanging onto the thin threads of determination that hold their education and career ambitions in place.
A handful of students who were willing to recognize their financial limits for providing a holiday dinner for their families submitted their own names for Thanksgiving Basket consideration. All were welcomed and accommodated. “No one was turned down, and no questions were asked,” says Nancy Hale, Library Learning Resource Coordinator.
The campus “elves” spent considerable time collecting donations of money and food items for the Thanksgiving baskets. Each dinner included a turkey, boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing, vegetables, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce and dessert – enough to serve 6-8 people. A roasting pan was also provided.
“Ashley Gonzalez (Division Manager) was our Thanksgiving Basket Elf,” says Patricia Bavery, Facilities Manager. “I was just the Assistant Elf!” Many other staff and faculty helped to get the word out to instructors and students for nominations, donations and volunteers to collect items and assemble the baskets.
Elf Power was in full force. “Patricia is a wizard – she makes everything happen,” says Nancy. “She and Ashley had everything packaged up on the 19th and ready to go on the 20th and 21st.”
The best part of any gift is the giving. “We wanted the students to really see that Thanksgiving was all about giving to others, rather than self-gratification,” says Ashley. “My highlight of the event was to see the students’ reaction when they realized that we were giving them the FULL dinner. We gave them a lot of food for their families. They were so very grateful, and I got many hugs, and some tears, from our students.”
The SJVC team worked briskly and efficiently to make this Thanksgiving one of true gratitude for so many, while it warmed the hearts of those who were able to make it possible.