Block D brings home the turkeys

Perhaps no other time in the 10 years the Douglas High Block D Letterman's Club has been conducting its Turkey Drive has the need for the project been so tangible to the club's members.

Students in the club, which is open to varsity letter winners in any sport or club at the school with the intent of establishing model citizens within the school, annually take the first two weeks of November to raise funds to buy food that will be distributed to families in need for the holiday season.

But the current economy has changed the tone of the fundraiser.

"Times are tough and we did get turned down a couple of times this year," said Block D senior officer Carly McCullough, who also plays on the school's varsity volleyball and basketball teams. "It shows you in a way what we're trying to do.

"The need is greater and there is not as much money to help. It (getting turned down) does make you want to work harder. They're not turning us down because they don't want to help -- they just can't make it work right now. It reminds us why we're doing this in the first place."

Just driving the overall point home, Lira's Market, where the club has done the bulk of its shopping for the drive over the past four years, closed its doors earlier this year.

Instead, the club took the nearly $3,800 it had raised, combined with an additional $700 to $1,000 from the club's auxiliary funds, to do its shopping at Scolari's Food & Drug in Gardnerville.

"The kids love this project every year, but it has changed," said Ernie Monfiletto, who is the club's advisor as well as the varsity assistant football coach and a social studies teacher at the high school. "(Scolari's store manager) Pat Padilla has been very accommodating. He gave us the best prices he could find on the turkeys. He and everyone at the store put in the time and the effort and gave us great support to make this happen."

The club, with its 110 members, did its shopping Thursday afternoon and took 1,386 pounds of canned, boxed and non-perishable food directly to the Carson Valley Community Food Closet, along with 90 turkeys in the 12-14-pound range.

The club will also donate nine turkeys to families at Scarselli Elementary School, 25 to Gardnerville Elementary and 30 to Jacks Valley Elementary.

"It was more difficult this year, but the kids kept at it, because they realized what was going on," Monfiletto said.

Members broke up into small groups and went door-to-door around the Valley with a goal of raising $400 each.

Junior class representative Bri Randall, who also plays goalkeeper for the girls' soccer team, said in most cases, people out in the community were willing to help out in whatever way they could.

"People understand what we are trying to do," Randall said, "They'd give us $2, $20, anything they could to help out. It all adds up.

"Just seeing the generosity of this community, even in tough times, makes you want to work harder and get out to more houses to help more people.

Randall said group members spend about 6 to 8 hours each going door to door, but that the shopping day is when the project begins to bear visible fruit.

"It's a great cause and it really connects us with giving back to the community in a tangible way," Randall said. "You look at a shopping cart full of cans and you know they'll be going to people who can really use them. They'll go to help make someone's holidays better.

"We're just glad to be able to get out there and help."

McCullough agreed.

"This part (the shopping), makes the whole thing more of a reality," McCullough said. "Just seeing the generosity of the community turn into something we can put in a cart and give back.

"It's a lot of work and it can be pretty humbling, but it's also very rewarding."

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