Turkey Feast should prioritize spirit of giving

November at Palo Alto High School means many things: early college applications are due, winter sports are beginning, Thanksgiving break is around the corner and the annual Turkey Trot reappears on the quad. This year is the eighth annual year for the Turkey Feast, an event set up by Paly’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA).

Although this has been successful in the past, instead of bestowing all responsibility to parents, it is important that students assume duties for the event, so students should be provided with the option to have more involvement in Turkey Trot preparations.

In order to participate, students and teachers pay $5, or $2 and three cans of canned food. All preparation work for the feast has previously been done by the PTSA. According to Turkey Day Lunch Co-Chair Melissa Anderson, all the turkeys, pies and baked potatoes are donated by parents — and thanks to over a hundred hardworking parents, Paly’s Turkey Trot from the previous school year allowed the PTSA to collect enough to donate five full barrels of canned goods and $4,000 in Target and Safeway gift cards. Although Turkey Trot is a parent-organized lunch, students should play a larger role in its arrangement. The best way to get Paly students to be more mindful is to have them be actively engaged in the process of giving.

Currently, all food and proceeds collected at the end of the Turkey Trot are given to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto. While Turkey Trot benefits local communities with its donations, it has become an event that is remembered more for its abundance of food, and not one that reminds students the values of the Thanksgiving holiday.

As a start, students can help by transporting collected cans to the Ecumenical Hunger Program and volunteer at the organization as well. Students can gain insight from volunteer work, either from the people they work with or from fellow students. Additionally, students can gain eye-opening experiences that reveal how even small contributions can have big impacts on others.

Furthermore, students can participate in food preparation. Those with particular interests in the kitchen would enjoy cooking the feast. With a school population of almost 2,000 students, there can never be too many cooks in the kitchen. There are many opportunities to incorporate students into future Turkey Trots, and they  need to be taken advantage of.

According to junior Jonathan Zwiebel, the feast is a chance for students to join together before the holidays; he advocates the idea of student involvement. Appreciation of the effort that goes into Turkey Trot is key.

The best way to get Paly students to be more mindful is to have them be actively engaged in the process of giving.

“If students helped out, they would learn about the hard work that goes into setting up a Thanksgiving meal and would be more thankful for the effort that goes into the holiday,” Zweibel said. “Also by participating in the cooking that is normally done by parents, students can learn to be thankful for all of the meals their parents prepare for them.”