Tis the season of giving, and recently, the Grand Fork community along with the University of North Dakota demonstrated that with an annual “Turkey Basket” food donation effort that has become a local tradition.
On Nov. 17, the UND Quo Vadis Mortar Board chapter conducted its 33rd Annual Turkey Basket Drive to provide individuals and families in need with a Thanksgiving dinner basket filled with all the traditional fixings to make a Thanksgiving meal. The mortar board, headed by Tommy Van Norman and Kristi Okerlund, is a senior honor society comprising 45 members that help make this event a possibility.
About 700 baskets were given away this year, costing about $40 dollars each. Most of the money made to assemble the baskets is raised through various fund-raising efforts by all Mortar Board members. Local businesses and past supporters also keep this effort going through their generous donations.
“The Turkey Basket Drive has been a really incredible experience,” said Van Norman. Until you work this event, you do not understand its full impact. It is a crazy feeling knowing that some of these families coming through would not be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner if it was not for our group. I love being able to tell a family ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ while handing them their basket and seeing them smile back.
“I have received emails and phone calls from both agencies and people receiving baskets expressing gratitude. I got an email about a mom who could not stop crying when she heard her family was going to receive a Thanksgiving turkey and dinner fixings. It is a heartwarming experience.”
UND’s Mortar Board chapter has put a significant amount of work into this project, and because of it, many families that would otherwise not get a Thanksgiving dinner are able to celebrate the holiday with a feast.
All their hard work has not gone unnoticed. In October, the group was honored with a Project Excellence Award for its annual Turkey Basket Drive at the Mortar Board National Conference in Chicago.
The Quo Vadis chapter was chartered in 1932, and continues to provide opportunities for leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to communities.
Kate Menzies, University Relations student writer