News Flash

Town News and Updates

Posted on: October 24, 2022

Thankful Around Thanksgiving

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Students and staff at Gaudet Middle School and the Gaudet Learning Academy work to make sure everyone has a nice Thanksgiving. #GaudetGreat #MiddletownRI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or msheley@middletownri.com 


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THANKFUL AROUND THANKSGIVING

 

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (OCTOBER 24, 2022) – Thanksgiving might be a few weeks away, but Gaudet Middle School and the Gaudet Learning Academy are already working to make sure everyone enjoys the big day.


On one recent morning, students and staff brought canned goods, nonperishable donations and money and then did a couple laps on the track at the Aquidneck Avenue schools to show their support for the less fortunate.


There was so much packed into the back of a black pickup parked on the walk leading into the Gaudet Athletic Complex that it had to be emptied — twice. The event was organized by the schools’ physical education staff as a way to spur community spirit and provide a great Thanksgiving meal to those who may not be able to afford one on their own.


Physical education and health teacher Jennifer Cavallaro said all the items will be sorted and gathered into baskets loaded with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and other fixings. The money raised will pay for gift cards to buy turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples.


“When I mention to some of my friends that we’re doing this, they’re like ‘Middletown? It’s all middle class and everyone is doing well’ and that’s definitely not the case,” Cavallaro said. “There are lot of kids here who don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from and to see everyone giving back, it makes you feel really good about what’s happening here as a school community.”


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It’s not the first time the Gaudet school community helped out around Thanksgiving. Actually, there was a well established campaign before COVID-19 through a wrench into things a couple years back. 


During the 2021-2022 school year, Gaudet Principal William Niemeyer said students and staff brought in more than 5,000 cans to give. 


“When I first got here, the level of need definitely surprised me,” Niemeyer said. “But we see it everyday and do what we can to help. As for the support you’re seeing here today, that’s not a surprise at all. The Gaudet community always does a great job rallying behind a cause, whatever it may be.”


“We’re so, so thankful and happy with the students and the support of the entire Learning Academy community,” Learning Academy Principal Rebecca Silveira said. “We definitely see (the need) and we have excellent supports who are always ready to give back.” 


As standards like Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” to the latest hit by Bruno Mars blared from the pickup, a sea of students approached, most holding cans or bags with donations. 


They were directed to carefully place their donations into one of several cardboard boxes set up in the bed of the pickup. Other dropped cash and change into a donation container, which quickly was loaded with money.


Eighth graders Owen Frates and Brinley Freitas said when they heard about the food drive, they were 100 percent on board.


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“I feel like it helps everyone come together as a community,” Brinley said. “It shows that everyone here really cares and wants to give back.”


“It’s something that a lot of people don’t really think about, but it’s a real problem,” Owen added. “It can happen to anybody. You lose a job or have a bit of bad luck and you could be wondering where your next meal is coming from.”


Physical education and health teacher Lori Hanlon said it was great to have the fundraiser  back after COVID-19 messed up the schedule.


“I think the best thing about this is it raises awareness for everyone that this is a reality here,” Hanlon said. “We go to great lengths to make sure that everyone has enough to eat every day and for some students, the food they get from school might be the only meals they get all day.”


Later in the morning, fourth graders Anderson Reyes Franco, Aliyah Edwards, Nathan  Fullerton and Jade Nurse were only too happy to lend a hand.


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“When you’re doing something like this, it makes you feel good,” Anderson said. “How could it not? Every little bit helps.”


“You never know who it might be, someone who’s a friend or not,” Aliyah added. “Whoever it is, we know we’re doing the right thing here.”


Special education teacher Tina Murphy-Reynolds said her students will be very involved in putting together the Thanksgiving basket, learning more life skills to help as they get older.


“This is such a worthwhile activity in so many ways,” Murphy-Reynolds said. “My students will get so much out of this, things like sorting that help for future and then you have the families this is helping. It just makes you feel good.”


Cavallaro said on the day of the food drive and walk, even organizers didn’t know who the donations were going to. But that wasn’t the point, she said.  

“I know some people don’t believe it, but we have the second highest rate of homelessness among students in the state,” Cavallaro said. “We don’t just feel like we’re teachers. We’re here to help, whoever needs it.” 


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Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/5968/NYCU-Thanksgiving-Help

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