HOC and Interfaith Works partners with Bullis. Front row, from left: Dr. Rosetta Robinson of Interfaith Works, Co-chairs Patricia Cohen, Julie Smith and Bridgit Fried, Stephanie Seamones of HOC, Sara Romeyn, Bullis Community Service Director; back row: Jonathan Cartagena and Brian Selden, Youth Coordinators for HOC.
Potomac Bountiful Thanksgiving baskets will make Thanksgiving Day possible for 75 Montgomery County families — due to the generosity of The Bullis School students and their families. The baskets are brimming with everything needed to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, including stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, marshmallows, a turkey pan, cream of mushroom soup, applesauce, corn, green beans, fruit, sweet potatoes, turkey gravy — even holiday candles, table decorations and holiday napkins. With this basket, families also receive an apple pie, freshly baked by Bullis students — and a Giant gift card for purchasing their turkey. The 60-pound basket is wrapped and contains holiday cards signed by each student.
Brian Selden and Jonathan Cartagena, youth coordinators for the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), attended the basket-assembling meeting of more than 30 volunteer parents from Bullis. Selden explained how the recipients feel upon receiving the generous basket, “When we give out the baskets, these people — for whom life is very difficult — can’t believe it. Finally they receive something without a struggle and someone really cares about them. Some are so happy that they break down in tears.”
Cartagena added, “It touches the heart and serves as an inspiration for them to go out and do something generous for someone else.”
For 16 years, The Bullis School has partnered with Interfaith Works, HOC and Manna Food Center to give baskets and support for these agencies in their county-wide effort to provide holiday meals to hundreds of families throughout Montgomery County. Stephanie Semones, event and volunteer coordinator for HOC is grateful for Bullis’ assistance. “Ten percent of the residents of Montgomery County are beneath the poverty line — and these are people who simply cannot afford all the Thanksgiving trimmings. These baskets are truly appreciated by the families who are able to have a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving due to the efforts of the Bullis community. It gives me a warm feeling because the baskets are so thoughtfully planned and so much caring that goes into them.”
“We encouraged the parents to have the students do the shopping or pick out the items. We want them to be personally involved in helping others,” said Bridgit Fried, who serves as co-chair of the Parents Association Community Service along with Patricia Cohen and Julie Smith.
In addition to providing the 75 baskets, Bullis Upper School students took over the school cafeteria on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to knead and roll out pastry dough, cut and core apples, measure and stir the ingredients for the filling, assemble the pies and bake them. They made 120 pies; one will accompany each basket and the rest will be delivered by HOC to other families.
“It’s our biggest all-school community service project of the year,” said Dr. Sara Romeyn, Bullis director of community service. “It shows what an impact 700 students can make in their community.”