This holiday season, we are exceptionally grateful for all the work our City Connects staff, schools, and community partners are doing to help families.
As the country battles the pandemic, and many communities face scarce resources and dimmed charitable giving, City Connects Coordinators are still helping families find the ingredients for holiday happiness.
In Salem, Mass., City Connects Program Manager Ellen Wingard is using a spreadsheet to track the 225 turkeys — donated by local community partner It Starts with ME!
This year, instead of having schools deliver the turkeys, Wingard and her team have collected the names of families in need and set up a central pick-up site where families can get the turkeys as well as additional food from The Salem Pantry and meals from Salem Public Schools.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” Wingard says. “And for families whom we haven’t identified, who still need turkeys, we’ll connect them to the Salvation Army. Many of our restaurants are also doing meals, and so we’re trying to communicate that as broadly as we can.”
The secret to holiday — and year-round — success?
“It’s all about optimizing our support of community partners so that they have what they need to help families.”
In Minnesota, there’s a dynamic Thanksgiving partnership that pulls together families, football, and City Connects.
“LIFE Prep received 100 vouchers for our families from the Minnesota Vikings,” Christyna Jamma Sherrod says of the local National Football League team. Sherrod, who was a coordinator last year is now the Assistant Director of LIFE Prep School in St. Paul, Minn.
“This voucher includes a turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and all the fixings that our families can use to make a thanksgiving meal at home.”
“Leah Jones, our Director, and I called families on Friday to tell them the news. It was really great. We could hear the relief and the happiness, especially since a lot of our families had said they hadn’t even started picking things up for thanksgiving yet.”
“The Vikings have been such a huge part of LIFE Prep! Last year, they were able to provide all of our students with a pair of Toms shoes. Now we’re grateful that the Vikings thought of our families during the pandemic.”
“I know that this has brought a smile to our LIFE Prep staff members’ faces, knowing that our students and families are able to have a Thanksgiving dinner at home.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!