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Thanksgiving Baskets: A “Good Neighbors” Tradition

RWU community members craft complete turkey dinners in creative baskets for local families
Photo by: Jill Rodrigues ’05

BRISTOL, R.I. – In what has become a beloved campus tradition, the annual Turkey Basket Contest combines the best of the RWU community – camaraderie, generous spirit and fun, all for a wonderful cause!

Complete Thanksgiving dinners, including sides, desserts and gift cards to purchase turkeys, were donated to the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry via RWU’s 11th Annual Turkey Basket Contest on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The event was sponsored by the Student Volunteer Association and the Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, in cooperation with the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry and the Bristol-Warren Regional School District.

“There is just something basic about ‘making’ someone’s holiday,” says KC Ferrara, Director of Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.

The annual Turkey Basket contest is a highly anticipated component of the holiday tradition on the RWU campus. Each year, members of the University compete to see who can collect the most food and present it in the most unique basket (“basket” being open to interpretation). In past years, food has arrived in useful objects like wagons and strollers. And while participants do not know the families on the receiving end, they put a lot of thought into what might make them happy, Ferrara says.

Any donation helps, Ferrara notes, but many departments go above and beyond the basics. For example, every team in the athletics department submits a basket, resulting in 16 well-fed families for Thanksgiving. In the Center for Academic Development, tutors and faculty contribute money and do one large shopping spree, which ensures all the bases are covered for dinner.

The baskets are judged on creativity, quantity and the people’s choice. The designs have always been inspired – past creations included a scene from “The Giving Tree” and a sit-down dinner with Roger Williams – and they’ve become increasingly sophisticated over the years. This year’s contest winners were:

  • Creativity: A tie between the Student Advocacy Office’s Red Sox World Series replica trophy and the Bursar Department’s Great Pumpkin Patch
  • Quantity: Tutorial Support Services’ library cart stuffed with food
  • People’s Choice: The Career Center’s giant cherry pie 

Since 2002, members of the RWU community have donated more than 650 complete turkey dinners to families in need in Bristol and Warren. The Turkey Basket competition is an opportunity for RWU to demonstrate its goodwill and partnership with the local community, according to Ferrara.

View the slideshow below for a glimpse at this year’s Turkey Baskets, now en route to Bristol-Warren neighbors in need: