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The Thanksgiving Pie Project

A New York elementary school bakes pies for a soup kitchen's holiday meal

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Early on a recent Saturday morning, 76 students, parents, and teachers of the Tuxedo Park School arrived with apples and peelers in hand. They were there to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Pie Project. The 57 pies they baked were donated to the Suffern Soup Kitchen in Suffern, New York, and to Grandmothers Acting as Parents in New Jersey, for Thanksgiving dinners.

"It's a great way for kids of all ages to do something hands-on," said the mastermind behind the project, Kristen Heard. "Everybody knows what it's like to have Thanksgiving dinner and have pie."

The Suffern Soup Kitchen is open seven days a week year-round.

"We feed anywhere from 30 to150 people each day," said the Reverend Dale Cranston, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church. "We never know who is going to come."

Everyone is welcome at the Suffern Soup Kitchen, Rev. Cranston said. And its doors are always open. Only once in its 20-year history has the kitchen had to close — at least for a short time — and that was in the midst of a harsh storm. Rev. Cranston was so worried that someone would go hungry that he drove to the church and started working on his own to prepare a meal. One by one, people began to show up. More people came to help than people who needed a meal.

Tuxedo Park School has an ongoing relationship with the soup kitchen. Once a month, students from one of the grades make lasagna, garlic bread, and salad to feed 50 people. School families volunteer to serve the meal the next day.

Thanksgiving is a time when donations are more plentiful and the soup kitchen gets many more volunteers than usual, he said. The problem this Thanksgiving is about the amount of food needed. Rev. Cranston says only one fourth the usual amount of food is coming in, with 30 percent more people to feed.

"Then when February comes rolling around or the hot summers of August, no one wants to volunteer and the soup kitchen doesn't get as many donations, but people are still hungry," Rev. Cranston said.

Volunteering and donations may drop off significantly in 2009 if the current economic crisis is still plaguing most Americans. And more people may need to be fed.

Kids can help, says Rev. Cranston. They can work in soup kitchens or visit to help keep the people there company.

"Kids can start a group or club to donate to places like the Suffern Soup Kitchen," Rev. Cranston said. He said a donation of even one can of food a week would help.

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