Giving good, getting thanks

by Julie Singh, Staff Writer

Among the many holidays celebrated by those at Glen Rock High School, Thanksgiving is something special. Glen Rock students, faculty and residents participate in events and activities that shine a light on helping others and giving back.

Over the past two weeks, the Interact Club has made tremendous efforts in helping  battered women and their children celebrate a warm, welcoming, and intimate Thanksgiving.

Food drive

One of two main events that the Interact Club has been involved with is the Thanksgiving Food Drive. This past weekend, members of the Interact Club stood outside of Kilroys Wonder Market in Glen Rock while the temperature dropped to forty degrees. The group collected non perishable items that will be donated to a food pantry called Social Services Association of Ridgewood.

“I thought it was a really good experience, knowing that just a few hours of my time made a difference in some peoples’ lives by helping provide food for them,” said Jessica Giardino, a junior at GRHS who volunteered this past weekend at Kilroys.

The pantry not only serves Glen Rock but also Ridgewood, Midland Park, Ho-Ho-Kus, Wyckoff, and Waldwick. The food pantry will come to collect the donations on Friday, November 21.

Thanksgiving Dinner

The Interact Club also takes part in the annual Thanksgiving Dinner. This event takes place on Thanksgiving day, when the club will provide Thanksgiving dinner for battered women and their children.

These women live in a shelter called Shelter Our Sisters; on Nov. 27, women and their children will be transported to the community church in Glen Rock.

In order to achieve a successful Thanksgiving dinner, the Interact club must collect donations, set up and prepare for the event.

“We have to ask for donations, because anything we can get donated is less we have to provide ourselves. We’re not a money making organization so that’s why we rely on donations,” said Debra Brolsma, adviser of Interact and Special Education teacher.

Along with local Glen Rock businesses, residents can choose to donate any available goods or resources that would fit the occasion. The members of Interact intend to donate items such as milk, butter, juice, paper products, aluminum foil and other products that are necessary to put on a Thanksgiving dinner.

I always say it really does take a village to put something like this on, so that’s why we’re always asking for donations.”

— Debra Brolsma, adviser of the Interact Club

“The eighth graders at Academy of our Lady make apple pies with their principal, and they donate it to our dinner. Sometime’s a Girl Scout troop will make cookies. Mr. James McCarthy, who was the former principal at GRHS used to always make pumpkin pies. Even though he’s not here anymore, he’ll drop two pumpkin pies off that he and his son have made the night before,” said Brolsma.

Glen Rock High School students take pride in helping each other make a difference. The ability to collect these goods and provide a Thanksgiving dinner to those who need it is a collective effort, in which the slightest contribution makes an effort.

“We make mashed potatoes. What usually happens is Mr. Kurz has the football players come, sometimes it’s either the Wednesday night before, or usually the morning of. And they come, and they do all the peeling of the potatoes, we boil them, they mash them and we make mashed potatoes that morning,” said Brolsma.

The Interact Club relies on donations to provide other foods such as turkey, studding and casserole.

Along with providing the Thanksgiving dinner, the Interact club also provides every child that attends with a small goody bag, containing candy and a small toy. Depending on the age group of the child, they will be given a specific wrapped gift.

“Sometimes we have an actual Santa and sometimes we don’t have a Santa if no one wants to dress up, but we have Santa’s elves,” Brolsma said. These baggies will be prepared within the next week, in time for the Thanksgiving dinner.

On Thanksgiving Day, the members of Interact will help entertain the children that attend the event.

“We have our members that day, whoever can come and volunteer. Spend a couple hours here, and then go off and have Thanksgiving dinner with their own families,” said Brolsma.

Brolsma has been the adviser of Interact for the past six years. These Thanksgiving traditions were in place before she was the adviser.

“I always say it really does take a village to put something like this on, so that’s why we’re always asking for donations,” Brolsma said.

Faculty donations

The staff also participates in a specific faculty food drive.

“Years ago, staff members wanted to help too. They were just bringing in food,” Brolsma recalled. “We started doing something more organized than just randomly bringing in food. Star of Hope Mission is the one that does this collection, and basically what this is, is a list of twenty four different items that fit in this box, along with a turkey, goes to a needy family.”

For approximately five years, the Glen Rock High School staff has participated in its own food collection to donate to the Star of Hope Mission, located in Paterson. Although the teachers provide the twenty four items on the list, a different organization will provide a turkey for each box. The list includes regular Thanksgiving items such as stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and even items like cake mix, cereal, rice, soups and other non perishable items.

Each department or group of faculty is assigned a box, and Brolsma approximates that around twenty boxes will be collected. The staff collection is not limited to Glen Rock High School education departments, but also to groups such as the guidance department, the Community School, the technology department, and the custodial and maintenance department.

The faculty donation collection ended on Tuesday, November 18, although Star of Mission Hope will not collect the boxes at the end of this week.

Pathways to turkey-day

Another Glen Rock High School Thanksgiving tradition is the annual Pathways Thanksgiving Event. The members of Pathways signed a banner saying what they are thankful for; this banner is displayed in the senior hallway of GRHS.

The “Pathways Is Thankful For” banner is displayed in the senior hallway.

The members signed their names along with handprints and indicated what they’re thankful for.  The members also decorated turkeys, colored Thanksgiving coloring papers, created Thanksgiving themed crafts, and also played games.

“One thing that I thought was really amazing to see was the kids write down what they’re thankful for on a banner. At one point a pair of sisters were writing down what they were thankful for and the youngest sister, who’s in kindergarten, wrote for her old sister. Kids appreciation for what they have is amazing to see,” said Katilin Stansel, co-adviser of Pathways.

Along with the many Thanksgiving themed activities, Pathways also held a collection for nonperishable goods.

“The food collection turned out pretty well. We wish we had a little more of a turn out, but we’re thankful for what we have,” said Stansel.

Although Glen Rock High School has already participated in a number of events that are helpful to families in need, there are available opportunities that remain for anyone that would to like to contribute.

On Wednesday, Nov. 26, people are needed to set up for the Thanksgiving Dinner. Help will also be needed at the dinner itself.