Nearly 4,000 pounds of turkey and roughly 5,000 pounds of canned and dry food flew out the doors of the Oceanside High School lobby early on Nov. 21. The reason for this mass exodus? Charity, as more than 100 students and volunteers delivered the goods to families in need throughout the community for Oceanside’s 31st Annual Turkey Shoot.
As in previous years, no turkeys were actually shot for the event.
Coordinating with Oceanside Community Service and St. Anthony’s Church, Oceanside students and volunteers donated the turkeys and baskets of food, which were delivered to nearly 200 local families and individuals who might be struggling to support themselves this holiday season.
“We know who needs assistance,” former OCS President Bob Transom said. His organization maintains and updates a list of those who have requested food aid and cross references it with St. Anthony’s food pantry and Oceanside students who qualify for state and federally funded free or reduced-price school lunches to create a master list, he said.
Last year, 250 homes received aid. “It is down a little bit,” Transom noted of number of those in need this Thanksgiving.
On the schools side, hundreds of students of mobilize to collect the food, pack the baskets and deliver them to those in need.
“As the holiday season of giving arrives, there is no better sign of hope and joy than the effort that our students put into the Turkey Shoot and our other holiday charity drives,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington said.
Of the energy her district’s students put into the annual charitable tradition, “As a superintendent, I could not be prouder.”
Today’s Turkey Shoot is a far cry from its original inception, when OHS dean Tony Caizza organized the event. Thirty-five baskets were donated to the high school that year, and OCS was not involved to help coordinate. Now, however, the shoot has evolved into a massive community event encompassing multiple local organizations.
With this year’s Thanksgiving in the books, OCS is looking towards its Christmas food drive, which Transom said promises to be even larger, and will include items such as fresh produce, eggs, fruit and toys. Castleton High School students will help ready the baskets at School No. 6 on Dec. 21 to be sent out on Dec. 23. Of the community effort Transom said, “It’s quite something.”