Editor's note: This article was written by Sara Nowen, a sixth and seventh grade teacher at School #1 in Little Falls, originally published by Partners for Health Foundation.

In 2014, I brought the Turkey Ride event to the middle school where I work, School #1 in Little Falls. The Montclair Bikery’s Turkey Ride is an annual event that invites bicyclists to collect turkeys for the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

With the help of our Student Council, our fundraiser, which we affectionately named the “Turkey Wars,” was born. This week-long competition between students in grades 5-8 allowed us to fundraise for the event, while imparting a little friendly competition for added incentive. Staff members also got in the spirit, contributing funds for a faculty dress down day. In just one week we were able to raise $680.

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This year I set a new goal to raise $1,000 in support of this special cause. In addition to conducting the Turkey Wars at our school, we extended the fundraising event to students and families across our district. With the help of some very creative student volunteers and a bell, contributions started to pour in on the final two days of fundraising. In the same week’s time, our generous staff, students and families of Little Falls donated $1,689.65 to the Turkey Ride event  –  well-exceeding our goal of $1,000, and more than doubling last year’s efforts.

Also contributing to the Turkey Ride this year was the Red Hawk Swim Club, a competitive swim team run through Montclair State University, where I coach throughout the school year. Swimmers, coaches and parents from RHSC raised an additional $200 toward the Turkey Ride cause, bringing our total donation to $2,000.

Even better, the funds we raised plus contributions from many other individuals and businesses totaled more than $10,000 – and every dollar is being matched by Partners for Health Foundation. So the Human Needs Food Pantry will receive a check for more than $20,000 from the Foundation.

The Little Falls School District’s motto is “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” True to form, there is great pride in all we’ve accomplished as a community. Giving is what this season is all about, and together we’ve proved it in a very big way.