Mishawaka Youth Advisory Council’s ‘Thanksgiving Food Drive’ returns for 13th year

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 8:53 AM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - As a teen, you were probably concerned with your schoolwork, practice for a sport, or who you’re hanging out with this weekend.

Well, the teens in the Mishawaka Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council have their thoughts on giving back to its community.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, for some families it will be difficult to get food on the table. That’s why the council is trying to help with its annual “Thanksgiving Food Drive.”

Each year, the group will come together and create donation boxes that will be spread throughout the community like City Hall, local businesses like the Indiana Rug Co., and fire stations.

This is the 13th year the council has set up the Thanksgiving donation boxes. It’s the biggest community service project of the year for the group.

“It happens pretty quick, I swear in my youth council in September,” said Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood. “Immediately, they start to establish their goal of how many people they want to help, going about seeking donations, orchestrating the entire effort — which is all done by students. They also go about engaging the community, local businesses and community members, so it’s quite an effort.”

Some of the food needed for the donation boxes are green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams — basically what you’ll find on your typical Thanksgiving spread. But the council also accepts canned and non-perishable goods.

The council’s goal is to give 75 full Thanksgiving dinners to the families of Mishawaka.

“We do the entire meal of Thanksgiving,” Wood said. " So, that’s everything from turkey to pumpkin pie. And it’s getting more difficult as time goes on, and families are experiencing bigger challenges with their food. We’re also experiencing the same thing, so it might be scarcity of turkey, inflation for food products,. It is impacting our kid’s ability to go out and get more donations.”

The youth advisory council is made up of 33 students from four different school around town.

The council has been working on these boxes since September, but all that work will be worth it when they get to see the faces of the people they are helping.

“It’s a great education for our students because they get to see our community in a different light than before,” Wood said. “Not only do the kids orchestrate the entire project and seek the donations, but they come here to organize it into packages that will be delivered by these kids to the doorsteps of the families they are helping. And I think they get a great education, it’s very emotional. I’ve seen tears on many occasions. It’s a great experience for our kids to see the people and meet the people that they are helping.”

The group will collect the food donated in the boxes on Sunday, Nov.12. The council will deliver the food to the doorsteps of families the following week.

The youth advisory council is also partnered with the local VFW, so any surplus donated will go to the family of a VFW member.

Over the course of 13 years, the council has supported over 1,000 Mishawaka families with Thanksgiving dinners.

Here is full list of all items needed:

  • Canned green beans
  • Canned yams
  • Marshmallows
  • Boxes of instant potatoes
  • Jars of gravy
  • Boxed stuffing
  • Mushroom soup
  • French fried onions
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Boxed desserts
  • Aluminum foil
  • Disposable foil turkey pans