Original story posted in the College Heights Herald on November 28, 2011
Hundreds of cans were stacked haphazardly on the counters, the tabletop, the floor and every nook of the small break room of WKU's Public Health Department.
"That's 60," WKU graduate student Ines Dugandzija said last Friday afternoon as she finished filling a cardboard box to the brim with canned green beans.
Her efforts at organizing the items had barely made a dent in the chaos, and there were more cans to come.
Dugandzija, a 23-year-old earning a Master of Public Health, is the current treasurer of the WKU Kentucky Public Health Association.
Last Friday afternoon, she and other members carefully packed boxes full of donated canned goods for local families in need as part of the Adopt a Family program.
Each box contained the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a meal that is sometimes out of reach for those who have fallen on hard times.
With the goods raised by WKU KPHA, 14 more households in the Bowling Green area will have enough to celebrate the holiday.
For Evansville senior Chad Beswick, the president of WKU KPHA, it's especially important to help others during the holiday season.
"It's about family," he said. "It's about fellowship. It's about coming together."
This is the second year WKU KPHA has come together with the Family Resource Center at Parker Bennett Curry Elementary in Bowling Green to collect food and monetary donations for the holidays.
Lisa Wilson, who works with the Family Resource center, has acted as the liaison between WKU KHPA and the school for both years by picking up the donations from WKU's main campus and making sure they reach the correct destinations.
Bernadette Tardy, the Family Resource Coordinator of Parker Bennett Curry, said the school is in particular need for services such as Adopt a Family.
More than 90 percent of students at the Parker Bennett Curry are on free or reduced school lunch, Tardy said.
While Wilson, Tardy and others at the Family Resource center help to keep students and families fed from day to day through various programs, they can't provide for holiday meals alone.
That's why Tardy is glad to see someone else bridge the gap.
"I greatly appreciate Western for reaching out and being a part of it," she said.
Beswick said WKU KPHA will keep collecting items through Dec. 14 to provide another set of families with Christmas Dinner.
"It's a special time of year where you shouldn't have to fight for food," he said about this year's holiday season.
For both the Thanksgiving and Christmas food drive, items requested included stove top dressing, canned cranberries, instant potatoes and various canned vegetables.
Monetary donations for the Thanksgiving food drive went towards buying one turkey for each family. For Christmas, each family will be receiving a ham.
All donations can be brought to WKU Academic Complex in rooms 133 or 208. Contact Chad Beswick at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.