Sutherlin School District is making sure all families can celebrate Thanksgiving with an elaborate meal.

Andrea Shaver, family liaison for the school district, said the school district is providing 60 families with a turkey and all the trimmings.

“We believe that our school is the hub of our community,” she said. “We care about the families and want to help bring them stability. Our kids are going to be better learners if they’re eating. We want to help take care of our community.”

Shaver said all food boxes include a turkey and all the fixings, including a pie. Families that do not have a way to cook a meal will be provided with gift cards or certificates to local restaurants.

The school district has put on similar events in years prior, but as Shaver’s job became full-time this year she chose to take over the project and streamline the process.

Through her work, Shaver gets to know families who struggle to make ends meet. She also decided to post an application on the district’s social media site, so more families would be able to see it.

“This year we took it a step further. We got a form and distributed that to students and through social media,” Shaver said. “About a third of the people on my list responded.”

Shaver said the number of people who have requested help through the school district has increased this year.

“A lot of families are affected for the first time ever,” Shaver said. “Some may not need help in getting food from the school, but they may not be able to donate either.”

The school district is able to meet the needs of families in the district, according to Shaver.

Shaver is working with a team, including at least one representative from each of the four schools in Sutherlin — East Primary, West Intermediate, Sutherlin Middle and Sutherlin High — as well as a representative from the school district office.

Together, the team reached out to families and put together a food drive. Organizers also received donations from several local businesses and received support from the Sutherlin Rotary Club, Orenco, Franz Bakery, Costco, Stewart Park Golf Course and the Avery Family.

“We didn’t need to solicit any donations,” Shaver said. “We had businesses that contacted us, asking if they could donate — which is wonderful.”

Food baskets will also be provided to families in need at Christmas time. Shaver said the school district will be doing a ham drive for those baskets.

Sutherlin School District families who wish to utilize the project or community members who would like to donate can contact Shaver at andrea.shaver@sutherlin.k12.or.us or call 541-459-2912 extension 3716.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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