Although a golden-brown turkey and steaming hot stuffing may be on the minds of many this week, students at Whitehall-Yearling High School are setting their sights beyond this week's family feast.
With Christmas less than a month away, members of WYHS' National Honor Society are gearing to help some families close to home.
For nearly three decades, students at WYHS have been collecting nonperishable food items for community members who find it difficult to provide their families with a plentiful Christmas. But more recently, members of the National Honor Society have been focusing their efforts closer to home and keeping their donations with families in the Whitehall City School District.
It's a mission NHS adviser Sarah Narsavage said is twofold. Community members and the students benefit from the service, but not all of the payoff is tangible.
"We value this event as an opportunity for students to reflect on what they have and how they can help others," Narsavage said last week as the group made final preparations for the food drive and auction. "Our National Honor Society students learn valuable lessons in leadership, organization, publicity and service. We feel it's important to help those among us that are struggling to make ends meet."
The group's goal this year is to collect 3,000 nonperishable food items to be distributed among 30 to 35 families, all who have children in Whitehall schools.
Beginning Dec. 2, the honor society will launch its collection effort, asking students to bring nonperishable items in for donation. For every item students donate, they earn points that could be used at the end of the drive for a school-wide auction, complete with a professional auctioneer. Auction items in the past included home-baked goods like brownies and cookies and ticket packages for Zoombezi Bay.
The collection-drive tradition was started by the school's DECA organization, which operated the mission for some 20 years. After the group dissolved, honor society members didn't want the student-led effort to dissolve with it, so they took over the annual drive.
The drive is entirely student-led, including packing all of the boxes of food for needy Whitehall families.
Narsavage said they plan to do their own sorting and packing Dec. 14, with the final auction planned for Dec. 20.
According to the most recent data from the Ohio Department of Education, the Whitehall City School District's number of economically disadvantaged students has risen sharply in the past decade. So it is significant that the students take care of their own first, Narsavage said.
"The food drive and auction are an important community effort for our school," she said.
Anyone interested in donating items for the event's auction should call Narsavage at 614-417-5100.