As the semester comes to a close, amid the stress of final exams and projects, students are daydreaming of going home to oven-roasted turkey, creamy sweet potatoes with marshmallows and cinnamon-sugared apple pies.
But not everyone can afford such luxuries. Instead of looking forward to Thanksgiving as a relaxing break, many people worry about their financial ability to create a blissful holiday. This is where “Adopt-A-Basket” steps in.
The 13th annual Adopt-A-Basket program — co-sponsored by the Associated Student Body and Office of Leadership and Advocacy — aims to provide meals for families in need, and this year, for the first time, the fundraiser is catering specifically to providing for members of the Ole Miss community. The group accepted donations this week and began packing baskets with food Wednesday.
Margaret Hay, director of philanthropy for the ASB, said confining Adopt-A-Basket to only UM families makes the event more manageable and sets a standard for who exactly receives a basket.
“The Ole Miss family includes anyone on staff at the university across all departments such as housing, landscape services, food services and many more,” Hay, a junior public policy major, said.
Hay said in the past, anywhere from 75 to 200 baskets have been donated. ASB President Dion Kevin III said that this year, he hopes the program will collect at least 100 complete boxes.
Kevin said this is the first year ASB is helping to facilitate Adopt-A-Basket, and he thinks focusing efforts on the Ole Miss family makes the donation drive more efficient and effective.
“Families are always incredibly grateful for the support, and this is emblematic of the close relationship Ole Miss strives to maintain with the local community,” Kevin said.
Kevin said he started volunteering for Adopt-A-Basket his freshman year, when he packed and delivered more than 20 boxes to local families.
Hay also volunteered her freshman year and said it was fun to work for a good cause alongside her friends.
“This fundraiser really does make a difference because it helps give people a Thanksgiving meal for their families,” Hay said.
Accepted donations included canned goods such as corn, green beans and condensed milk; baking supplies such as brown sugar and vanilla extract and a $25 gift card to a supermarket that allows recipients to buy perishable items.
Throughout its 12 years, the event has provided meals for more than 1,000 families in the community.
Emily Tipton, ASB’s director of First Year Experience and a junior religious studies major, said all 50 Freshman Forum members will volunteer for Adopt-A-Basket. Freshman Forum is a leadership, student government-oriented program created two years ago to further involve freshmen on campus.
Tipton thinks limiting the donation drive to UM community members gives students a chance to give back to the hard-working staff members they encounter every day on campus.
“I’m especially excited for them (the freshmen) to be involved, because all of the baskets we fill will go home with the incredible members of the university’s staff that take such good care of us and keep us safe every day,” Tipton said. “This is a great opportunity for our freshmen to show how thankful they are for the staff during this season of Thanksgiving.”