It’s the Thursday before Thanksgiving and there’s a gym full of families eagerly awaiting a feast.
It’s Machray School’s 5th annual
Thanksgiving Supper — an innovative meet-the-teacher event that builds
community and celebrates school life through eating together.
Rows of brightly coloured tables featuring festive
centrepieces, dinner rolls, and cranberry sauce set the stage for the
grand entrance of a full turkey dinner and dessert which the kids and
their parents have been anticipating all day. Nicole Pearson, mom of
four, has been coming every year.
"It’s nice. I like it," she says.
Kevin Chief, MLA for Point Douglas, calls it "the best way to kick off Thanksgiving."
He notes the growth of the event over the
three years he has participated, with attendance doubling. He
attributes the growth to the power of generosity and a sense of
Another reason for the
event’s success is the tasty food people have come to expect. It wasn’t
part of the equation in the beginning. When Gordon Armstrong, principal
of Machray School (a N-6 school with 450 students), first introduced
the idea, they started with hot dogs and a carnival.
The next year, their first corporate
sponsor joined in. After choosing to partner with the school by tree
planting with Grade 5 and 6 classes, Qualico, a home-building and
land-development company based in Winnipeg, fell in love with the school
and became part of the community supper as well. Synergy continued to
The following year, Qualico helped bring
the Fairmont Hotel on board. As a result, for the past three years, the
hotel has prepared turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and mixed
vegetables in aluminum packets perfect for taking home afterwards.
Kevin Van, Qualico vice-president is excited to be involved. He was
there — along with staff from his company and even his family — to serve
dinner and clean up, freeing school staff to focus on the families.
One other partner, R.B.
Russell Vocational School, commissioned its culinary students to create
decadent brownies for dessert. Following that sweet treat, there were
draws for lunch bags and backpacks full of school supplies.
At the end of the night, smiling students
and happy parents left the school building feeling full — not just full
of food, but full of pride, dignity, and gratitude.
What valuable gifts are given when a community comes together in every way.