‘It’s just the best feeling’: Gonzaga Prep students deliver Thanksgiving meals to families in need

SPOKANE, Wash. — One hundred and fifty Spokane families received a Thanksgiving meal and food for a month, all thanks to Gonzaga Prep students. 

It’s a tradition the private school has done for years, all to help local families. 

Earlier this year, Gina Jose would not have expected a fridge and table full of food, let alone in a home she did not have just a few months ago. 

Jose’s family was homeless up until September.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that I don’t have to go hungry so that my kids can eat, knowing that we can all eat and not go hungry is an amazing feeling,” she said. “That is something I am especially thankful for this year.” 

The annual Gonzaga Prep tradition only continues to get bigger.  This year, Gonzaga Prep collected about 120,000 pounds of food, surpassing a record. In years past, students had collected around 100,000 pounds of food.

“This energy is infectious around the halls, outside, everybody wants to help, everybody wants to do their part,” said Liz Slamkowski, Director of Christian Service at the school. 

It’s a big operation for students and staff to put together. They have been collecting food donations since the beginning of November.

“Yesterday, we picked up 300 turkeys from Yoke’s, which is more turkeys than we’ve ever needed to order. The need gets greater every year and we rise to the challenge every year,” Slamkowski said. 

Senior Cooper Loney has risen to that challenging year after year, knowing just how special the food drive is for the community. He remembers one specific moment with a woman he donated food to in his freshman year:

“We donated a ton of food to her that she didn’t expect she was getting, and she actually broke down and cried in front of us,” Loney said. “It was a super humbling experience.” 

It’s an experience he won’t soon forget. Loney knows it is one thing to give, but he says it is different to see how it helps people like Jose’s family. 

“It’s different because it gives you a sense of who you’re helping. You’re told that this is for the people in the community and to go out and to actually see it, it’s super heartwarming. It’s just the best feeling,” Loney said.

In addition to the 150 families students delivered food to, they donated food to the Post Falls Food Bank and Second Harvest, estimating that they had helped several hundred more people. Several groups came to Gonzaga Prep to pick up food for their own pantries, too, including the Colville Native American Tribe, Mary Queen food pantry and St. Thomas More food pantry.

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