Chattanooga Boys School Helps Corps Feed the Hungry
By: David Ibata
Scotty Jones remembers growing up in a household with five children and a single mom, and how the kindness of others brightened the holidays.
“I remember when churches or groups would knock on our door and give us food – usually a ham and canned goods – for Thanksgiving or Christmas,” Jones said. “As a kid, I’d think, ‘Oh, we’ll have a great Thanksgiving meal!’”
Jones is now middle school principal at the McCallie School, a private school for boys in Chattanooga. Sharing that story during a morning devotional, he told his students, “We have the opportunity to provide canned goods and such so families don’t have to worry and can have a Thanksgiving meal, like you do.”
The boys were inspired. “They went above and beyond,” Jones said.
For this year’s Thanksgiving baskets with The Salvation Army, “we filled up six barrels, transferred the goods to boxes, and then filled up the barrels again.” The goal was enough to feed 75 families, but the McCallie boys went way beyond that; the extra food will go to a food pantry.
“It was overwhelming to see how much the boys really took it to heart,” Jones said. “I told them, ‘You’ll probably never see the faces of the family you help out; you might never know where they live in Chattanooga. But let me tell you, when these goods come to the door, they’ll be having a feeling of relief.’”
“It’s more than just the food. It’s a sense of community, a sense of family. These families can enjoy the season, which can be very stressful for a lot of them.”
The effort continues a years-long tradition of McCallie Middle and Upper schools and the Army working together for the holidays.
“This teaches our younger generation so much more than what can be learned in the classrooms, and we are so grateful McCallie is joining us in ‘doing the most good,’” said Kimberly George, marketing director for The Salvation Army in Chattanooga.
Social Services identified 75 needy families, mostly seniors on fixed incomes caring for grandchildren, George said. Each family received a “Turkey Ticket” and an invitation to pick up a food box the Friday before Thanksgiving.
Upper School members of the National Honor Society at McCallie took care of the turkeys.
“Before exams each season, they offer ‘survival kits’ for students: snacks, supplies, that kind of thing,” said Bob Bires, Upper School dean of student life and enrichment. “The profits from those sales provide the money for NHS to fund the turkey drive. I was gratified to see how many of these guys showed up to load the turkeys during a busy time of day and year.”
Middle schoolers in 6th, 7th and 8th grades gathered everything else: potatoes, yams, canned vegetables, packaged dressing and cranberry sauce.
“For some of them, it gave them a moment to stop and think about first, how they’re blessed; second, how there are people in the community who might need their help and assistance, and third, to start thinking – even at this young age – ‘How can I give back to the community, how can I help?’” Jones said.
“People a lot of times think young kids can’t do that much, but if you give them an opportunity, a lot of boys take it to heart. That seed is planted, and it starts to grow.”