The Northwest Catholic turkey drive has become an institution at this independent, Catholic high school in West Hartford.
Since 2002 Northwest Catholic’s sophomore class has led the Thanksgiving turkey collection in the spirit of giving. This year the students raised $3482, with which they purchased 80 turkeys for The Hartford Catholic Worker and donated the remaining funds to Foodshare.
In addition to this year’s $3482, Northwest Catholic families donated grocery bags full of Thanksgiving side dishes. Vegetables, stuffing mix, gravy, cranberry sauce, and more filled the Campus Ministry office, and on Monday students delivered the goods, along with 80 turkeys, to The Hartford Catholic Worker.
Sophomore class advisor and science teacher Virginia Murphy loves the turkey drive because “the students can see something concrete they are giving.” She especially likes that each student need give only what he or she can. She said, “A student can give $2 or $10 or $20 or more, and each one is helping buy a turkey.” In the past, she said, families have also given as much as $1000.
Since the turkey drive began, the school community has raised $42,381. That’s right — over 40k to feed Hartford’s hungry. As a mission-driven school, committed to its Catholic identity, no one who knows NWC finds this altruism surprising. Community service is an integral part of the school culture, making its ways into both co-curricular and extracurricular life. Students are invited to participate in service in a variety of ways. For example, the senior ACTS (A Chance to Serve) class delivered the food to Hartford’s Catholic Worker and remaining funds to Foodshare as part of their five-day outreach program in which they are currently immersed.
To encourage student participation in the annual turkey drive, the sophomores continued the tradition of pressing a little friendly competition. The homeroom that collected the most money earned itself a casual day, in other words, a day when students may step outside the dress code. Through November cartooned turkeys appeared on the walls outside each homeroom. For every $20 raised, a new turkey appeared. Students gleefully watched their paper turkey collection grow, knowing they were inching closer to the blue ribbon.
Is the Turkey Drive about winning? No. Is it about dressing in sweats? No. Do Northwest Catholic’s students know this? Yes. But a little lighthearted rivalry adds to the excitement, and the school, for certain, embraces sport. This year’s winners were Mr. Mark Dodd’s homeroom 603, raising $384.
To learn more about The Hartford Catholic Worker, visit hartfordcatholicworker.org and to learn more about Food Share, visit foodshare.org. To learn more about Northwest Catholic High School, visit northwestcatholic.org.