Early on Thanksgiving morning, the Thomas Jefferson Middle School was buzzing with activity. Principal Angela Davis and Assistant Principals Nina Odatalla and newly-appointed Assistant Principal Justin Avery, in collaboration with Ms. Patricia Dent, a Teaneck District Administrator, Thomas Jefferson faculty, support staff, and family volunteers, were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for members of the local community and beyond. The food, beverages and decorations were donated by Thomas Jefferson Middle School faculty and staff, local businesses that provided traditional American fare as well as both Kosher and Halal food. Members of the school community were especially grateful for donations from Roman Italian Restaurant (New Milford), Balthazor Bakery (Englewood), Sammy’s New Bagels (Teaneck) and Bimbo Bakeries (Totowa and Clifton).
The Thomas Jefferson Middle School cafeteria was beautifully decorated with lovely table settings, autumnal floral arrangements (generously donated by Eisele’s Nursery and Garden Center (Oradell) and balloons – which were a huge hit with the younger children. The mood in the Thomas Jefferson cafeteria was upbeat and festive. Teaneck families and a group of Syrian families sponsored by the International Rescue Committee organization were served by volunteers. The Syrian families who attended this festive celebration had been displaced from their homes as a result of the civil war in Syria. Both Ms. Davis and Iman Charaf welcomed the all of the guests and spoke about their shared humanity. Volunteers included staff members’ families, as well as Thomas Jefferson students. There was also a group of young men who are Thomas Jefferson and Teaneck High School graduates.
There were turkeys, chicken, ham, macaroni and cheese, salads, yams, lasagna, Kosher penne vodka, Halal turkeys and a variety of foods to honor each person’s dietary restrictions and tastes. Eighth grade science teacher Mrs. Paulette Szalay’s family owns a turkey farm and very generously donated eight turkeys, which faculty chefs prepared and carved for their appreciative guests. Stemming from the generosity of so many good people and the abundance of food as the day drew to a close, we were able to donate pans of food to a local Fire Department in Teaneck who were hosting the Fire Department Battalions, and donated fifty plates of food to the Abyssinian House in Harlem http://www.adcorp.org/websites/adc/images/Human_Services/Abby_House_11-16-14.pdf
and two large bags of bread were donated to the St. Francis bread line on 31st street in New York City. http://www.stfrancisbreadline.org/
Ms. Davis, her faculty, family and friends, with many other volunteers, were grateful for the opportunity to bring about a spirit of unity and community as together they celebrated Thanksgiving, 2016.