November 21, 2017, BY Beth Kaszuba

Two students hold a basket of food.
Erin Reph '18 and Prince Tchokouani '19, both interns with Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement, hold one of the Turkey & Trimmings baskets that will be distributed to local residents in need. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

During a season for giving thanks, the Bucknell community also gives back.

Each year for more than a decade, the Office of Civic Engagement has sponsored a popular Turkey & Trimmings Holiday Basket program, which provides containers brimming full of fixings for traditional Thanksgiving meals to financially challenged residents of Northumberland and Union counties.

According to Lynn Pierson, assistant director for community service, this year the program collected 120 baskets, which are assembled, donated and distributed by students, faculty and staff. Monetary donations supported the purchase of enough food to fill three more baskets, for a total of 123.

Each basket should include a gift certificate for a turkey, as well as packaged potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables and gravy. However, members of the Bucknell community often go above and beyond when filling the containers.

"Lots of times, the baskets include things like tablecloths or coloring books for kids," said Erin Reph '18, a chemistry major and Civic Engagement intern. "Beyond providing a meal, the people who create the baskets really care for the community."

Pierson added that departments, offices and divisions on campus often team up to fill one or more baskets.

"It's really a heartwarming time of year, to see the campus come together," she said, adding that students, faculty and staff also participate eagerly in an annual Giving Tree program.

The Giving Tree, also coordinated by the Office of Civic Engagement, is located in Bertrand Library during the month of November. Anyone interested in providing a holiday gift for a local individual in need can take one of the labeled snowflake tags that hang on the branches and purchase items requested by 18 social service agencies.

Pierson added that an estimated 17,700 people in Northumberland and Union counties suffer from food insecurity, or uncertain access to adequate food. The Turkey & Trimmings and Giving Tree programs serve to remind students that need is all around.

"Students are always surprised that there are people around here living in poverty," Pierson said. "Initially, the programs were just a way to give back. But they've developed into teachable moments."

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