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Oakhills stages ‘Give Thanks’ turkey dinner drive

By: Eileen Wilson Special to The Press-Tribune
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It’s raining turkeys at Oakhills Elementary School in Granite Bay. Hilary Hughes’ third-grade class and a team of dedicated room moms hoped to teach students the importance of helping others by heading a food drive to benefit families at a Sacramento school this holiday season. Enter Bobby Jackson, recently re-signed with the Sacramento Kings, and his wife Dona. The Jacksons wanted to get involved with the project, and suggested changing the scope to include the main course – turkey. “It all started with the room moms wanting to do a community service project. We wanted to assist families that could use extra help,” Dona Jackson said. And help has arrived by the bagfull. Tony’s Fine Foods, in Sacramento, has provided numerous turkeys and delicious pies to end the meal on a sweet note. Students, parents, and Granite Bay community members have provided food kits, which include canned and boxed goods, and grocery-store gift cards to assist families with their holiday meal. The kids’ initial goal was to provide 60 turkey dinners to families at Charles Mack Elementary School, a school where many students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. What the students ended up with was an extraordinary success. The class’s final tally was 120 turkeys and 400 food kits. But Oakhills only has so much storage space. The overflow – 270 food kits – had to be moved off site, and stored at Treelake Storage, which donated free storage space for the project. Third-grader Amy Johnson explained her part in the project. “We went collecting stuff and I’ve been putting it in bags. The families at Charles Mack might be surprised and they might be really happy to get the food,” she said. “It’s going to be something the kids will remember forever,” said Cheryl Clemence, room mom and co-coordinator. While putting together a food drive is a huge undertaking, it all came together very quickly. “On Tuesday only a few kits were ready – Wednesday, by noon, our storage room was completely full,” said Luann Johnson, room mom and co-coordinator. “People have really stepped up,” Clemence agreed. Hughes said philanthropy is increasing in importance throughout Eureka Union School District. “We’re trying to re-focus on 21st century goals with our kids. Our theme we’re really trying to focus on is what we can do to give back,” she said. “We’re gearing our class parties to giving to the community.” Hughes is impressed with the room moms, including Colleen Zolmer. Hughes said they’ve never been room moms before and have set the bar high. She’s especially proud of her students, five of whom spoke at an October school board meeting. “They were fabulous and fearless,” she said. Bobby Jackson will visit Oakhills again and bring Kings T-shirts for the class that donated the most completed food kits. In the meantime, all the additional food kits will be delivered to Ronald McDonald House, Mt. Sanai Church, St. Vincent de Paul and needy families in Granite Bay and Roseville. “People should know how Oakhills and Ridgeview School families have stepped up to support Bobby and the community,” Dona Jackson said.