The Turkey Fund of Springfield School District is actually a year-round endeavor that provides various kinds of assistance to Springfield and Morton families needing a helping hand. But the main event is always just before the winter break when students and staff pack boxes filled with every food to make a fantastic holiday meal (for three or more.)

The district had a short press release noting this was the 40th annual Turkey Fund food distribution. Springfield High School teacher Dave Ash, affectionately referred to as the “Head Turkey,” thought this was year 39.

“Is it 40? I guess we should have had balloons and a celebration,” Ash said.

Packing day isn’t as much celebration as it is very organized chaos. Now taking place in the lobby of the Cougar Gym, the boxes are built from the bottom up, starting with canned goods. E.T. Richardson Middle School is responsible for that collection with the remarkable total of 4,000 items (extra cans are donated to local food pantries.)

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables come from the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center. Springfield alumnus Steve Todaro has a contact at the center who rounds up donations from many generous vendors. Turkeys are purchased through funds raised by a number of events in the schools and community. “Turkey games” alone raised $5,500, said Jack Schott. Under the leadership of SHS teacher Megan Clementi (Ash’s second-in-command) 2015 graduates Schott and Alex Masino and 2016 grad Cara Dunfee, ran the games and were there for packing day.

The Turkey Fund is more than the district, however. A coalition of local ministry, hospitals and first responders identify families which would benefit from the outreach of their neighbors. Distribution is also the work of the district and other volunteers.

This year, 110 boxes were packed. Clementi said the number has been fairly consistent for the last several years, just slightly fewer than the years of greater financial pressures around 2007-2008. In addition to food boxes, gifts were assembled via “angel trees” in each school and the administration building where staff took tags with gender and age of recipients. Gift bags were numbered from one to 154, but represented hundreds of presents.

The fund is a source of assistance year round for any Springfield or Morton resident and supports diverse needs including mortgage/rent payments, prescriptions or medical bills.

It’s organized chaos in the foyer of the Cougar Gym at Springfield High School as students from all levels pack 110 food boxes for community members.

It’s organized chaos in the foyer of the Cougar Gym at Springfield High School as students from all levels pack 110 food boxes for community members.

For decades SHS teacher Dave Ash (third from right) has been the “Head Turkey” of organizing the annual event. Teacher Megan Clementi (rsecond from right) has been the second-in-command for about 14 years. Both teachers recruit their grown children for packing day.

For decades SHS teacher Dave Ash (third from right) has been the “Head Turkey” of organizing the annual event. Teacher Megan Clementi (rsecond from right) has been the second-in-command for about 14 years. Both teachers recruit their grown children for packing day.

Springfield Superintendent Tony Barber lends a hand to sorting hundreds of gift bags assembled as district personnel become “angels” for district children.

Springfield Superintendent Tony Barber lends a hand to sorting hundreds of gift bags assembled as district personnel become “angels” for district children.

A single gift bag demonstrates the generosity of district personnel who take tags off the angel trees in each school.

A single gift bag demonstrates the generosity of district personnel who take tags off the angel trees in each school.

Meena Morris (left) and Erika Maldonado are part of Scenic Hills Elementary School‘s fifth grade leadership team coming to packing day.

Meena Morris (left) and Erika Maldonado are part of Scenic Hills Elementary School‘s fifth grade leadership team coming to packing day.

Jack Schott (right) is a 2015 Springfield graduate who returns to run student activities to raise money for the Turkey Fund. He also turned up packing day to lend a hand to Sabold Elementary School youngster Jared Kennedy.

Jack Schott (right) is a 2015 Springfield graduate who returns to run student activities to raise money for the Turkey Fund. He also turned up packing day to lend a hand to Sabold Elementary School youngster Jared Kennedy.

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