The Out-of-Door Academy and Gocio Elementary School have enjoyed a strong partnership for more than 10 years, participating in regular service projects together. This year ODA students, parents, and faculty are providing Thanksgiving meals for 76 families at Gocio. Delivering Thanksgiving meals to families in need at Gocio has become an important tradition for every Out-of-Door student. Through this project, our students learn the rewarding nature of our core value of service as they offer compassion and empathy to others.
This year, through donations made by Out-of-Door students, faculty, and staff on both campuses, ODA donated 76 full Thanksgiving meals to Gocio families who otherwise would not be able to enjoy a holiday dinner. Each family’s basket contained all the makings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey, pumpkin pie, and multiple sides. This year, in addition to the food items and paper goods, we also included a recipe book detailing how to prepare all of the dishes in both English and Spanish. Mrs. Joanna Johnson came up with the idea to include a cook book to coincide with all the supplies we include in the baskets and Mrs. Yadira Kirschner’s seventh grade Spanish students took the initiative to translate the recipes. Check out the results in the Thanksgiving Cookbook.
On Friday, Ms. Marya Annicelli, Assistant Principal at Gocio Elementary School, spoke with Middle and Upper School students about the impact these meal donations will have for those receiving them. She shared a letter from a parent about how meaningful the Thanksgiving basket is, held a race between two students to demonstrate struggles some children face, and encouraged our students to embrace the importance of giving. After hearing Thanksgiving stories from Upper School and Middle School student representatives, the entire student body sang "Stand by Me," led by seniors Ethan Ball and Sofia Delgado.
Lower School students at Siesta Key learned how much these contributions mean to the families from Ms. Katherine Driggers, Gocio’s school liaison. Ms. Driggers spoke to the students about the importance of these donations and how the families might not have the means to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner together without their generosity. The fifth grade students then helped to load up the meals and traveled to Gocio Elementary School and helped to deliver them.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the Out-of-Door community understands the importance of combining efforts to supply the ingredients to create a bountiful meal for other families to enjoy. Our yearly service to Gocio Elementary and other organizations reminds ODA students about their role in the world and the importance of helping others.