Kyrene gives Thanksgiving packages
Kyrene del Milenio Principal James Verril and Kyrene employees load Thanksgiving packages to be distributed to struggling families on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Travis Roemhild/AFN

The Kyrene School District is bringing Thanksgiving to more than 200 local families.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, district and school staff packed up 200 Thanksgiving boxes which included an 8-10 pound turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and a gallon of milk. Also included were plates and disposable silverware, as well as a hygiene kit with toothbrushes, soap and other toiletries.

The boxes will go to families who are identified as struggling financially. Kyrene del Milenio Principal James Verrill picked up about 20 dinners for families at his school. He said that the majority of families will come to pick it up themselves, but for those who have no means of transportation, he would personally drive the boxes to their homes after school.

"It's the season of giving and I guess that's why I do what I do," Verrill said. "About 30 to 40 percent of my students are on free and reduced lunch so there is need out there."

The dinners were courtesy of the Real Gift Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is in the midst of its 11th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. Its goal this year is to distribute 3,650 dinners to feed more than 22,000 people.

"They have really been generous with us," Amanda Hamm, manager of Prevention Services at Kyrene, said. "They are dedicated to feeding homeless families."

Hamm said that if they run out of boxes, they have a list of places throughout Phoenix offering free Thanksgiving dinners to which they will give the families. One of those is through the Ahwatukee Coalition of Faith and Community Leaders, who will be feeding 125 families on Thanksgiving.

Verrill called last year's event "more impromptu," as he delivered the majority of the boxes himself.

"We did it smarter this year," he said. "There were tears last year. There were people very thankful and appreciative. It makes you feel good."

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