Secondary Smorgasbord: The Tradition of Christmas Giving - Room 213

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Secondary Smorgasbord: The Tradition of Christmas Giving

I'm excited to be linking up with some amazing bloggers as they share their Christmas traditions. Many thanks to  ELA Buffet's blog and Desktop Learning Adventures.

Several years ago, our Student Services team decided they'd like to host a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for all those students who don't get to have one.  However, they didn't want to have it just for those kids.  No one wants to be singled out for a dinner, no matter how yummy, because his/her family can't afford to buy a turkey.  So, we decided to open it up for the whole school.  And thus began one of the most loved traditions at our school.

On the day of the Christmas dinner, many of our 950 students walk away from the Learning Center with a plate that looks like this.  But this plate of deliciousness, which usually gets inhaled in less than five minutes, is the end result of weeks of planning and a huge, well-oiled machine of volunteers.

The planning begins weeks before the dinner, with the organization committee putting out calls for donations.  Our staff supplies around twenty turkeys, many, many pounds of potatoes, carrots, sweet potato and corn.  Then there is the dressing and the chicken stock and the butter and the desserts and get the picture.  We bring in one huge pile of food.

In the days leading up the the dinner the frenzy begins as committee members run around like crazy, making sure all of the donations are ready to go.  A huge crew of volunteers arrive very early the morning of the dinner and spend hours peeling and chopping veggies, making dressing and gravy. It's almost impossible to teach that morning with the amazing smells drifting through the halls.  And, at lunch time, the hallway leading into the Learning Center is teaming with people, as the line up snakes out the door, down the hall past the cafeteria and into the foyer for the gym.

Miraculously, every one gets a plate--and back to class on time.  Meanwhile, another team of volunteers is on clean up duty, while all around them, happy, satiated students and teachers go about the business of learning (wishing for a nap).  It's a big day at our school.  The power of teamwork is evident; smiling faces are everywhere.  Students who never get a dinner like this get to experience not only the food, but the joy that goes along with coming together with your friends to enjoy good food and good company. Good times.

In my classroom, I like to get my students to focus on giving, rather than just their wishlists, during the holiday season.  Some years it's just a can to collect change so we can donate to World Vision.  If time allows, I have them do a real-life research assignment where they research the service organizations in our city, and then find a way to help them.  It's an awesome activity to get students thinking about giving back--and working on some important ELA skills! You can find the assignment HERE. 

Visit the following Secondary Smorgasbord blogs to get a little taste of our most treasured traditions:
An InLinkz Link-up


  1. What a beautiful tradition! Full bellies and full hearts - so inspiring!

    1. Thanks, MB. It is a wonderful day at our school.

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful tradition. The students at your school are blessed to have such a compassionate and caring staff.

    Happy Holidays to you All,

  3. Yum! I love this! We do an outreach dinner at our school for local families, but I like that you do it for your students. You never know who might need this special dinner.
    What a beautiful way to give back!

  4. I love the teamwork shown in your school to make a special holiday meal for your students.

  5. Great post as always, Jackie! I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award! To accept the award (and pay it forward) click on this link:

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  7. Jackie, I love your service research idea! I did something similar once, but I'm definitely using yours in the future! Thank you!

  8. Jackie, what a wonderful way to come together as a community! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Wow! What an awesome undertaking for you and your students, but such an incredible lesson!

  10. You and your class rock! What a wonderful way to serve your community. Thank you for sharing.
    Happy Holidays,

  11. Thanks, all, but it's not just my class! There are dozens of teachers and some retirees who help pull it all together!