10 Years -- 10,000 Pounds of Turkey: Gill St. Bernard's Looks to Break 'Turkey Day' Record in Milestone Year

Nov 15, 2012, 09:57 ET from Gill St. Bernard's School

GLADSTONE, N.J., Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gill St. Bernard's School invites all local community members to its campus for a 10th Anniversary celebration of "Turkey Day" or "Take a Turkey to School Day" on Friday, November 16, 2012.

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The school's fight to banish hunger in N.J. first began in 2003 when faculty and students learned that a truck en route to the New Jersey Community Food Bank of Hillside had overturned, resulting in hundreds of unsalvageable turkeys strewn across the N.J. Turnpike. With less than two weeks left before Thanksgiving, the Gill St. Bernard's community pulled together a donation of more than 400 turkeys to help make up for those turkeys lost in the crash that year.

GSB's "Turkey Day" has grown significantly over the past 10 years. Today, it signifies an event that the entire GSB campus looks forward to and participates in, and includes Thanksgiving-themed songs, costumes, decorations and stories. In total, GSB has successfully donated more than 5,000 turkeys — weighing in at a combined total of approximately 75,000 pounds — to the New Jersey Community Food Bank since 2003. "It makes us happy to be part of something that involves so many people working together to alleviate a growing concern over hunger in New Jersey," said organizers of the event, Head Librarian Randell Schmidt and Director of Studies Peter Schmidt.

While last year's turkey count included more than 600 turkeys totaling approximately 9,150 pounds — the overall second highest number donated by any non-profit organization covering more than 40 sites statewide in 2011 — the school hopes to make this year's event its best year yet by donating more than 660 turkeys (or 10,000 pounds of poultry). "The spirit and sense of community service at Gill St. Bernard's is just fantastic," said Community Food Bank of New Jersey President Kathleen DiChiara. "GSB's goal to increase its donation could not have come at a better time as we've had more requests from families asking for help with turkeys this year than any other year."

To help reach this year's goal, the school has partnered with the local, organic and sustainable restaurant Ninety Acres — part of the Natirar Resort in Peapack-Gladstone. This partnership will cross-promote donations on campus and at the restaurant. In addition, to help draw attention to the cause, Ninety Acres will add a special GSB Turkey Day Stuffing — containing fresh vegetables and herbs from the 10-acre farm at Natirar — to its menu for the entire month of November. Co-owner and Manager of The Farm at Natirar Kim Wojtowicz believes that Ninety Acres' carefully crafted menu and take-home donation postcards for restaurant-goers will successfully help spread the message of "Turkey Day" beyond the Gill St. Bernard's campus. "Although 'Turkey Day' has primarily been a GSB event for the past nine years, we're hoping that including Ninety Acres and The Farm of Natirar will allow it to become more of a community event," said Wojtowicz.

Aside from appearing on Ninety Acres' menu this November, stuffing will be served during a "Turkey Day" luncheon at GSB on November 16 as well. Additional activities set to take place that day include a third and fourth grade reading of Sarah Gives Thanks — led by the book's author Mike Allegra, a Scotch Plains resident — among other holiday readings completed by Upper School students, a welcome ceremony at the Thomas Court Flag Pole and a grand march of frozen turkeys parade guided by "Thanks" the GSB turkey mascot along with the GSB Knight. Allegra will later visit the Upper School's creative writing class and two Middle School history classes as well.  

A treasured tradition amongst faculty, staff and students at the school, each division plays an important role in the success of GSB's annual "Turkey Day." Whether showing spirit while dressed in turkey costumes and hats, creating posters to advertise the event or volunteering to carry turkeys for younger students, "Turkey Day" is recognized for promoting a sense of community within the school and raising awareness of the issues that exist just miles from students' very own homes.

All donors should bring their turkey to Gill St. Bernard's School between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Friday, November 16. The turkeys will then be transported, by truck, to the New Jersey Community Food Bank of Hillside and distributed to needy families just in time for Thanksgiving.


SOURCE Gill St. Bernard's School