Salvation Army hosts 8th Annual Project RISE Harvest Dinner for Local Families Experiencing Homelessness


Project RISE 8th Annual Harvest Dinner for Local Families Experiencing Homelessness


This November, Akron’s Salvation Army hosted the 8th Annual Project RISE Parent RISE-ing Harvest Dinner for the students and families experiencing homelessness. The Harvest Dinner gives these families and youth the opportunity to celebrate this festive time of year with food, fun and friendship. The evening included arts and literacy activities, parent-child activities, Thanksgiving dinner, giveaways, and entertainment.
The dinner was held in the gymnasium of Salvation Army. The tables were festively decorated with cornucopias and leaves. The room was buzzing with excitement and fellowship!

prsa1Students from Kenmore High School’s
FCCLA Group Serve Food to Young Guest.



Before dinner was served, John Burke gave a rousing presentation about the First Thanksgiving. Mr. Burke gave the presentation in character. The attendees loved his beautiful costume and storytelling!


prsa2John Burke Gives a Presentation on the First Thanksgiving.

Kenmore High School’s FCCLA (Family Career & Community Leaders of America), led by Family & Consumer Science teacher, Cheryl Marez, brought 11 turkeys and helped set up, serve food and clean up. Students, staff and teachers from Kenmore High School donated enough money to allow the FCCLA to purchase the 11 turkeys.
The turkeys were prepared by Mrs. Marez’ foods classes at Kenmore and the delicious meal was served to the 170 guests by the students from Kenmore’s FCCLA. The stuffing was provided by Dr. Jennifer Warren and students in her foods program at the University of Akron. Rolls and cranberry sauce were provided by Pamela Machuga (a Project RISE volunteer and Ranger for the Cuyahoga Valley National Parks). Glenda Keaton, a Family & Consumer Sciences Teacher at Garfield High School, provided the corn. Valerie Skelly of Buchtel High School provided the green beans and each shelter also contributed a dish.



prsa4Sage Lewis and his family wife, Rocky and son, Indiana

During the event, Sage Lewis and his family (wife, Rocky Lewis and son, Indiana Lewis) gave away new shoes. Mr. Lewis purchased the shoes with funds he collected from friends and community members through a “GoFundme” campaign online. Through the donations, Mr. Lewis was able to purchase 160 pairs of shoes, totaling $1,100 worth of shoes! The Lewis family hosted the shoe giveaway table during the event and attendees were invited to visit and receive a pair of new shoes.


prsa3A Young Student Works on a Special Activity Provided by the Library.



Olivia Jerkes, Project RISE Staff Member and tutor at Salvation Army, created a beautiful “Thankful Tree”. During the event, attendees were invited to write down things they were thankful for on colorful leaves. Leaves were then hung onto the colorful “Thankful Tree”. After the event, the tree was displayed at the Board of Education Building, where the Project RISE Office is.
Not only did the Harvest Dinner provide a wonderful meal for the students and families, but also engaging activities and giveaways. Before the meal, families worked on a colorful cornucopia activity together. The families had the opportunity to think about what they were thankful for, despite their hardships. The attendees were also able to visit an activity table provided by Kathy Marten and Sarah Rosenberger from The Akron-Summit Public Library. Mary Jo McCracken and Kim  Joseph from Children and Books (CAB) also attended the event, giving new books to each student.
After the activities, the students and families had the opportunity to watch traditional Native American dances performed by the Tonweya Dancers of Boy Scout Troop No. 74 from Firestone Park United Methodist Church. The audience was captivated by the dancers, costumes and drumming. At the end of the performance, audience members were invited to join the dancers which made a special memory for the children and adults as well. Before they left, guests were given the opportunity to visit the giveaway table. Giveaways included books, stuffed animals and school supplies.


prsa5Attendees Dance with the Tonweya Dancers!


Project RISE would like to thank everyone who contributed to the donations, food and activities. Without the donations and support from Kenmore High School’s FCCLA, contributions from the Salvation Army and other contributions from the community, this event would not have been possible.


prsa6The “Thankful Tree” on Display at the Board of Education Building.



Project RISE, managed by Debra Manteghi, is a federally funded program through Ohio Department of Education. This program is a collaborative effort by Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the Akron community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth experiencing homelessness. During the 2014-2015 school year, Project RISE Identified and served close to 1,800 students experiencing homelessness.

For more information on Project RISE and how you can help, please contact Debra Manteghi at 330-761-2969 or

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