NWU Helps Brighten Holiday for Area School Families

For the past 19 years, a Thanksgiving tradition has warmed the hearts of Nebraska Wesleyan University faculty, staff and students, and warmed the kitchens of needy families.

Each year University offices, student organizations, athletic teams and individuals donate canned vegetables, pie crusts and filling, potatoes and roasting pans and other trimmings. They also pitch in a few dollars toward a turkey and other perishables. The items are packaged neatly by Nebraska Wesleyan athletes and then distributed to Huntington Elementary School families.

The tradition is part of a long-standing partnership between NWU and Huntington Elementary, located just blocks from the University and school to many low-income and at-risk children.

"It was humbling for me to put these together," said NWU sophomore Allison Johnson of Daykin. "I thought a lot about how privileged I am to go to such a university while there are others out there who are unable to afford to buy themselves enough food for a Thanksgiving meal."

This year, Nebraska Wesleyan collected meals for 95 families. In addition to the food, employees and students donated money to purchase train rides when the students visit the Lincoln Children’s Zoo next spring.

The Huntington Elementary School families are nothing but thankful when they pick up their food just prior to the holiday. The students are just as thankful. In fact each Valentine’s Day they send personal cards and notes to all Nebraska Wesleyan students and employees, hoping to return a favor and brighten someone else’s day.

"It warmed my heart knowing I helped 95 families have a Thanksgiving meal," said first-year student Natasha Koenig.

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This year Nebraska Wesleyan University students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University have committed to volunteer 12,500 hours of service in honor of the University's 125th anniversary. Our goal is to reach the midway point by December 21 — the end of the fall semester. We're off to a great start with over 3,000 hours served in 12 weeks. Are you serving others this holiday season? Join us in this challenge by logging your service hours and sharing your experience.

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NWU Assistant Athletic Director Jo Bunstock distributes Thanksgiving meals to Huntington Elementary School families.