Young students start collecting for holiday drive


Brookside Elementary School students celebrated the start of their holiday donation drive with a Turkey Trot the day before Thanksgiving.

Each year the Baldwin school district and students from the elementary schools celebrate the coming holidays with a Turkey Trot event, where students would collect and organize food donations for Island Harvest — a Melville based food bank dedicated to ending hunger and food waste on Long Island. This year however, the students focused their donation efforts elsewhere.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon on Nov. 23, students at Brookside Elementary School neatly exited the school building in single file lines, escorted by their teachers, on to the grass fields outside of the school, marking the start of their Turkey Trot food drive. This year, students are learning the importance of giving, and helping those in need by raising donations for Bethany House.

Brookside students are collecting paper towels, toiletries, napkins, paper plates, laundry detergent pods, and dish soap for the woman and children at Bethany House — a non-profit organization, which provides shelter to homeless woman and woman with children in Long Island. The organization operates five different homes located in Baldwin, Bellmore, and Roosevelt, and services up to 85 people every night.

Students from kindergarten to fifth grade lined up in rows on the grass field, and sat down in front of cones, as they sorted themselves into teams. They celebrated the start of the food drive with an array of Turkey Trot games — including a relay race, where young students handed off a rubber turkey to their teammates instead of a typical baton. 

As the children played, a crowd of supporting parents gathered to cheer for their kids from the sidelines of the field. Parents like Arelin Rodriguez, of Baldwin and mother to Brookside elementary student Jadeleyn Peralta, said she came out to the school to offer her support for the drive and help her daughter the meaning of Thanksgiving.

“I’d like her to understand how to be grateful, and thankful for all that she has, and the family and friends that love her,” said Rodriguez.

Ayanna Moore-Ellis, of Baldwin, mother of students Autumn and Noah Moore-Ellis, said she excited to see children take pride in themselves, while helping others over the holiday season.

“It’s always nice to see the kids at Brookside having fun and appreciating the holidays,” said Moore-Ellis.

The students will continue to collect and deliver donated items into the school until Dec 9., where hygienic and  laundry items will be delivered to woman and children living with Bethany House.