About 30 neatly arranged boxes of Thanksgiving dinners sat on the stage of 's auditorium on Tuesday afternoon. Each box was filled with holiday staples--canned vegetables, boxed potatoes, cranberry sauce. For every box there was also one bag with a turkey inside.
At around 3 p.m., the families for whom the boxes had been assembled began to trickle into the auditorium. Greeting them was LBMS teacher Rocio Ortiz, whose generous smile assured each that, yes, all this was for them.
The food was gathered by LBMS' eighth grade Leadership Club and the good citizenship-centric Builders Club, who had been soliciting donations from their fellow students for the last three weeks. The turkeys came by way of California State Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, who also donated dozens of birds to his alma-mater .
"It was a team effort, a lot of people stepped in and did a lot of work," said Builders Club teacher Christopher Bombrys. "The kids in Builders Club organized the boxes, the kids in the leadership club made the boxes, so it was a real group effort."
On Tuesday afternoon, that group effort paid off for thirty grateful Highland Park families.
"I felt a lot of gratitude, obviously, as the families came in," Ortiz said. "You can tell, there's just a lot of appreciation."
Among the locals to receive a dinner was special education assistant Jasmine Flores.
A single-mother of five, Flores said she learned through her son on Monday that she was eligible for a dinner.
"It couldn't have come at a better time," she said. "My mom just had surgery on Monday and money has been tight. Thanksgiving was getting closer and the kids were asking, 'are we going to do anything, are we going to buy anything?' They were a little concerned, and I just said, 'I'm gonna try, guys. I'm gonna pull my resources together. When I got the call yesterday I was just really surprised. It's going to be a good Thanksgiving."