MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Thanksgiving is about tradition, and nowhere is the tradition of giving more apparent than in the Mahopac School District. In a years-old custom of giving back via fundraisers and gift baskets, students, parents, teachers and staff went all out to help families in need.
Mahopac Middle School, in conjunction with the town of Carmel, provided Thanksgiving dinner to 33 area families in need, including turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, pie, and “you name it,” said Lynne Mongon, who coordinated the giving at Mahopac Middle School. They also set up a “pantry” full of staples that recipients could choose from, including flour, sugar, oil, cereal, fruit, baby food, desserts, veggies and crackers, among other things. The fire departments and local businesses donated turkeys, a local businessman donated 100 pounds of potatoes, and area stores donated gift cards.
“It was a true team effort from the community,” said MMS Principal Vince DiGrandi.
Fulmar Road’s annual food drive supports families in need in the school. Students and staff collected things like cranberry sauce, stuffing and other ingredients for Thanksgiving meals, in addition to staples such as paper towels and pasta.
Austin Road collected donations and bought gift cards for families in need in its community, with each family receiving a grocery-store gift card for $125.
And at Mahopac High School, boxes and bags of food poured in to help create an abundance of giving to share with those in need and were distributed to help families have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. This annual event was organized by high school social workers Kristel Halton, Jenn Stytzer, Davia Bugge and Valerie Trefny and included help from Mahopac’s school counselors, custodians, teachers, students, parents, clubs and administrators.
“Mahopac High School is committed to making community service a priority and promoting empathy and resiliency through acts of kindness,” said Halton. “I feel very grateful to be part of a wonderful community.”
Carmel Town Councilman Frank Lombardi, who helped spearhead the project on the town’s side, thanked town employees for filling a food-drive box in Town Hall, which helped to fill the Thanksgiving food basket. He also cited Stew Leonard’s for donating turkeys, and Marc Anthony of Mahopac Inn and the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department.
“Also a special thanks to Acme supermarket for their generosity, as well as generous donations of supplies from the law firm of Jackson Lewis, the Schneider family, Drs. Lombardi, Mr. and Mrs. O. Lombardi and all the faculty, parents and students at the Mahopac Middle School,” Lombardi said. “None of this could be possible without the behind-the-scenes work of Lynn Mongon of the Middle School as well as Anne Pasquerello, administrative assistant to the Carmel Town Board.”
In addition to the families that needed the food baskets, donations were made to the St. John’s and St. James’ food pantries.