AUGUSTA — Eighth-grade students at St. Michael School were reminded of the need to help others during the holiday season Monday when they helped to hand out more than 200 bags of Thanksgiving food to the needy.

In the gymnasium of the school on Sewall Street, the students helped check in individuals and families who had requested the bags. The students also helped pack and lug the bags, along with extra sacks of potatoes and gift cards, to the gymnasium entrance.

There were no income requirements for people to receive the bags, said Patti Murray, a major in the Salvation Army, which helped organize the program.

Rather, they had to come from Augusta or one of several surrounding towns. In an interview, they had demonstrated their need for the food bag. They might not have enough money, Murray said, or they might have experienced a recent life-changing event such as a medical problem or bankruptcy.

“In October, when you watch people come in requesting Thanksgiving baskets, you get a good appreciation that there is a food need in this community, as in many communities,” said Fern LaRochelle, a longtime organizer of the food distribution.

Many of the recipients were recent immigrants, LaRochelle noted.


LaRochelle pointed to another local organization, the Augusta Food Bank, that demonstrates a similar need — and one that is growing.

The food bank is moving to a new, recently built headquarters on Mount Vernon Avenue to accommodate the record number of families — more than 400 a month — who use it, its director said in September.

At St. Michael, the donations were contributed by parishioners from several area churches, including St. Augustine and St. Mary in Augusta and St. Francis Xavier in Winthrop, LaRochelle said. The organizers received about 264 requests for the bags, he added, and the recipients included about 360 children.

It was important for local students to be involved in the event on Monday, LaRochelle said, “because it lets kids know that (the holidays) are more about helping then receiving.”

Several of the students participating in the event said they appreciated the ability to give back to the community.

The event started at noon, and in the first half-hour, one student, Amita Nanda, was surprised that only three people on her list of recipients had shown up.


Still, she said, “I’m really happy, because I’m helping.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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