This November, Project Rise and Kenmore-Garfield High School hosted the 11th Annual Project Rise 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. Altogether, around 125 attendees enjoyed the special evening!
Project Rise 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 2017-2018 school year, Project Rise identified and served approximately 2,400 students.
This year marked the second year that the event was held at Kenmore High School and previously the event was hosted at Salvation Army. Changing the location of the event to KGHS was a natural transition because of all the support Project Rise has gotten from the school over the years. Particularly from Family Consumer Sciences Teacher, Cheryl Marez. Ms. Marez is also the leader of Kenmore High School’s FCCLA (Family Career & Community Leaders of America). The FCCLA students helped set up, serve food and clean up. They also helped prepare the food before the event, including 10 turkeys!
The cafeteria tables were festively decorated with fall flowers and the room was buzzing with excitement and fellowship. The turkeys were prepared by Mrs. Marez’ foods classes at Kenmore and the delicious meal was served to the 125 guests by the students from Kenmore’s FCCLA. The stuffing was provided by Ms. Jennifer Warren and students in her foods program at the University of Akron and the sweet potatoes were prepared by Glenda Keaton, who is also a Family & Consumer Sciences Teacher at Kenmore-Garfield High School. Mr. David Skelly, Curriculum Specialist of the Culinary Program at KGHS, and his culinary students provided the mashed potatoes. Ms. Cheryl Marez also prepared 3 large trays of delicious Macaroni and Cheese that was a favorite of the attendees. KGHS staff members donated funds toward purchasing festive pies for dessert and other parts of the meal including corn, green beans and rolls were purchased through the Project Rise donation fund.
Not only did the Harvest Dinner provide a wonderful meal for the students and families, but also engaging activities and giveaways. Before and after the meal, attendees were invited to visit activity tables hosted by librarians from Akron Summit County Public Library and CAB (Children and Books) who gave each child a new book. The University of Akron ZIPS on the RISE volunteers, Kasey Gonyias and Kayla Tucker, provided a craft table and a photo booth. Project Rise Intern, Abbey Ruggles, created a “Grateful Tree” foam board in which students were invited to help decorate. The families had the opportunity to think about what they were thankful for, despite their hardships. Attendees also had an opportunity to visit the giveaway tables where they received brand new socks, books, coloring books, hand-made knitted hats and scarves, tote bags and pillow cases. The socks were collected by Rimer CLC and Sam Salem CLC and the hats and scarves were hand-made and donated by the Knitting Knights.
After the dinner was served, Akron Public Schools Board Member, Lisa Mansfield, presented the KGHS FCCLA students with a proclamation of service and gratitude that will be recognized at the next school board meeting. The students were excited to meet Ms. Mansfield and have their photo taken with her.
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 staff, students and FCCLA group, contributions and financial contributions from the community, this event would not have been possible. For more information on Project Rise and how you can help, please contact Rachel Breece at 330-761-2969 or firstname.lastname@example.org.