PENNINGTON: Toll Gate readies annual Thanksgiving drive

”There are places where people wake up hungry in the morning and go to bed hungry at night. These people are our neighbors. The place they live is called Trenton.

   ”There are places where people wake up hungry in the morning and go to bed hungry at night. These people are our neighbors. The place they live is called Trenton.
   ”You can make a difference by doing your part and lending a hand to donate or help Toll Gate Grammar School prepare 1,000 complete Thanksgiving meals for our neighbors at TASK.”
   This was the message Cathy Brown, co-chairwoman of the TASK event, conveyed as she opened the kickoff event for Toll Gate Grammar School’s monthlong project of preparing Thanksgiving for TASK.
   The children met two writers, Ethel D. Mack, who introduced the children to “Skippy the Mouse,” and Derrick Branch, who brought back his infamous poem, “Junk Food Junkie,” but this time he presented it as a song and played his guitar.
   Both of these artists are from TASK’s SHARE project, which is a part of TASK’s educational component. Ms. Mack’s story, written through the eyes of a mouse, conveyed to the children what it means to be in search of food.
   Mr. Branch’s humorous look at eating too much of the wrong foods brought giggles to the students as they clapped along to his tune.
   Kindergarten students were introduced to the project for the first time while student veterans of this project were reminded of how important their participation will be in preparing these meals.
   Ms. Brown showed a slide presentation with the many “tasks” that take place in order to make sure everyone in the community can have a homemade Thanksgiving dinner.
   Susan Pinto, Toll Gate parent and licensed professional counselor, used student volunteers for a simple demonstration with two families, who are given a paycheck, then asked to pay for a variety of the necessities.
   After making all their payments, they needed to feed their family with the money that was left. One family had extra money left at the end while the other did not.
   The children recognized what the family with the extra money needed to do — help the family in need, which is what the Toll Gate students will do as they participate in making Thanksgiving a special day for neighbors.
   The students have been providing Thanksgiving dinners for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen for more than 25 years. The students collect canned and boxed food and make sweet potato pies. Turkeys are donated, roasted and carved, nursery schools make cranberry relish, Cub Scouts decorate lunch bags, Girls Scouts make cornbread, Timberlane Middle School packs lunches and the community donates time and money.
   To help, contact Ms. Brown at tnc.brown@yerizon.net or Pam Wallace at heybulldog_21@yahoo.com.
   For more information, to donate, to see the schedule, to volunteer, to read the poets’ essays and see this project, visit http://tollgategrammarpto.shutterfly.com/task25.