South Bay high school aims to collect more than 1,000 turkeys for families in need

As families prepare to celebrate with a big warm meal on Thanksgiving, it’s not so easy for everyone to get food on the table this year. Families are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and food prices are up. 

Presentation High School, an all girls Catholic school in San Jose, wants to help.  

On Tuesday, students and staff began collecting turkeys as part of their annual holiday drive. Their goal is to collect 1,000 turkeys. They really want to beat the school’s record – which is 1,090 turkeys collected in one day.

As part of a more than 30 year partnership, Presentation is working with Sacred Heart Community Services to make sure everyone has a Thanksgiving dinner to enjoy.

That’s a little harder this year because the cost of a meal is up 14%, according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation. So instead of paying an average of about $47 for a meal for 10 people like last year, it’s about $53. A turkey is more expensive too -- up 24% from last year. 

"As people who are lucky enough to go to a school that has food drives, to go to a school that gives us these opportunities to serve, I think it’s our responsibility to help out as much as we can and to do whatever we can," said student Grace Gallego. 

The school makes the drive a competition between grades and a celebration, to get students excited about helping others. 

Gallejo, a junior, said that the turkey drive "is a culmination of our food drive that's led up to this, so this is like the final, last thing."

"It has been just beautiful to see over the past few weeks, when I’ve been able to become a little bit of a leader, just how much of an impact we’re making in our community," said Gallejo.

All month, students have been collecting items requested by Sacred Heart Community Services, including canned goods, diapers and hygiene products. 

Sacred Heart will distribute all the food and supplies to families in need. 

Robrto Gil, who has worked with Sacred Heart for more than 15 years, said they're seeing more people in need of help right now.

"The pandemic just exacerbated a lot of the challenges that many in our community face. Like you talk about displacement, we talk about in our region people making money and the economy being good for some people, but it’s definitely not great for a lot of our folks," said Gil. "Inflation doesn’t help them at all, right? Because gas prices are more expensive. It’s more expensive to live here." 

By Tuesday evening, Presentation had counted and loaded more than 884 turkeys into the Sacred Heart truck. Donations are being accepted at the school until 3 p.m.