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Murray Journal

McMillan students learn to give this Thanksgiving

Dec 01, 2023 11:38AM ● By Julie Slama

McMillan sixth-graders sorted and boxed up food donations for Murray Children’s Pantry. (Bethany Matsumori/McMillan Elementary)

In early November, the foyer of McMillan Elementary was stuffed with packages of instant potatoes, Rice-a-Roni, pumpkin pie mix and stuffing. There were canned fruits and vegetables, juice and crackers and an assortment of other food items to help those in need of a meal.

It was the school’s annual food drive, where families are asked to donate food items, if they’re able, said PTA president Bethany Matsumori.

“This year, we received more Thanksgiving specific food because the Murray Children’s Pantry asked us to hold our food drive out earlier in the month so we could help them collect food for the holiday,” she said as the school moved up its late month drive to the first few days of November. “Parents just sent canned goods with their kids to school and then it’s the responsibility of the sixth-graders to sort them in the bins.”

This year, the student body filled four large bins, with all grade levels participating in donating items.

Service has long been a priority for students to learn at McMillan.

Matsumori has helped at the elementary school for 10 years and even through Covid-19, students have served the community. While the food drives’ contributions used to be sent to the Utah Food Bank, she said now it stays local.

“The Murray Children’s Pantry reached out for help and because they’ve helped provide some services to some of the families that go to our schools, we liked building that connection and helping within our community,” Matsumori said.

Having students serve the community is part of the PTA’s mission, she said.

“With PTA, it’s giving them opportunities that aren’t just educational, but things that enhance and help them connect to their community. This food drive provides them an opportunity to serve and to see how that makes an impact on people’s lives,” Matsumori said.

The students’ service is not just donating food items once per year.

“We look for service activities a couple times each year. In the spring we try and do a cleanup or beautification of some type. Last year, they planted trees,” she said.

That tradition has served the McMillan community for more than a dozen years. In 2010, students and volunteers came out to spread wood chips in the playground, raked leaves, planted flowers, weeded and trimmed bushes — in the rain.

“Last year, it was so much fun,” Matsumori said. “It wasn’t just planting trees; it was building our community.”λ