Rowland Unified helped 50 families celebrate Thanksgiving this year by furnishing much-needed baskets of food.

"We collected all the food they'd need for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner," explained Jennifer Kottke, coordinator for the school district's Family Resource Center in La Puente.

Struggling families received large laundry baskets filled with turkey or ham, rolls, tortillas, canned vegetables, boxes of mashed potatoes and stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pies. They even got paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware.

"The economy has been rough on many of our families. Some are living in motels or homeless," Kottke noted. "So the district staff donated even more money and food for our Thanksgiving turkey

Stephanie Garcia, 19, right, and Steven Blackler, 21, put together Thanksgiving baskets. (Staff photo by Watchara Phomicinda)
baskets this year. The entire district and community have been very generous this year."

Even Rowland students stepped up to help out with the Santana Science Club collecting more than 1,000 pounds of food.

"We had to make four or five trips to Santana High to carry all the food back to the family center," Kottke said.

Senior Michelle Maranda was one of the students who organized the food drive at the alternative education school.

"We put collection boxes in every classroom, then talked to our classmates to encourage them to donate food for needy families," the 17-year-old said.

"I was very impressed with the generosity of students and staff. One student brought a new can in every day. It was prettycool," Maranda added.

Teacher Robert Schlarmann pointed out that 20 club members worked on the food drive for two and a half weeks.

"We wanted the science club to become more involved in the community, so this is one of the projects they chose," the science club adviser said.

Staff members at the Family Resource Center spent the days before the holiday compiling the dinner baskets. Appreciative families dropped by to get their holiday gifts. Click HERE for entire story!