Toll Gate Kicks Off Annual TASK Thanksgiving Event

Dance and vocal performances helped the Toll Gate Elementary School student body kick-off the school’s annual preparation of nearly 700 complete Thanksgiving dinners for Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) last week.

For more than 30 years, the Toll Gate community has baked pies, donated canned and boxed goods, carved turkeys, packed delivery trucks, decorated the dining hall at TASK, and delivered all the complete Thanksgiving meals.

“On behalf of the staff and students at Toll Gate Grammar School, we are pleased to be part of the effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners for our friends at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen,” said interim Toll Gate Principal Jane-Ellen Lennon. “This is a tradition that has been a part of the Toll Gate community for 31 years and we are grateful for all who contribute to this community effort.”

At a morning “Gator Gathering,” Hopewell Valley Central High School dance students and dancers from The Pennington Studio performed pieces inspired by the theme of supporting others through challenging times. The Central High School Chamber Choir also performed to help students get excited to participate in the annual TASK event and to encourage students to look for ways to make a difference in the local community.

“Toll Gators, you are embarking on a pilgrimage as life-long learners,” said Dawn Berman, a four time Toll Gate parent and co-chair of the school’s TASK effort. “Community service projects, like this one, provide experience that will enable you to bridge the barriers of negativity, injustice and discrimination. Community service has the power to impact other people’s lives enhancing the values and knowledge developed here at Toll Gate. Your effort, through this project, will touch someone, and it can give someone a sense of hope and a chance to dream.”

Starting today, Toll Gators will begin the “task” of collecting items for their targeted food drive. Each grade is assigned a specific food item to create a complete Thanksgiving meal, from stuffing to sweet potatoes.

On November 16, fifth grade students will load a truck with non-perishables for delivery to TASK and assemble 275 pie boxes. On November 19 and 20, students and helpers from throughout the school will work together to bake pies. On the evening of November 20, Toll Gate parents and helpers will don aprons and wield knives for the annual carve-a-thon in the school’s cafeteria. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, third grade students will personally travel to TASK to decorate for the holiday celebration and help with the delivery of turkeys and pies.

The “task” of preparing more than 700 Thanksgiving dinners has been a joint effort between Toll Gate Grammar and the greater community for the past 30 years. Toll Gate students collect canned and boxed food, make 250 of their signature sweet potato pies, while turkeys are donated by local businesses and families, roasted and carved by volunteers. Local nursery schools make cranberry relish, Cub Scouts decorate lunch bags, Girls Scouts make cornbread, Timberlane Middle School packs lunches and the community at-large generously donates time and money to a task that resonates with what this time of year is all about  – “Giving, Caring, Sharing.”  By participating in this project, the children learn that there is always an opportunity to share and lend a helping hand.

If you would like to find out how you can help, please contact Missy Cappucci at or Dawn Berman at In the past, local real estate firms have donated nearly half of the turkeys used for this project! The TASK team at Toll Gate is grateful for the generosity of the local community in making this event a success year after year. We are still seeking donations of turkeys and other food items from our friends in the community.

For more information on this project, to donate, to see our schedule, to volunteer, to read the poets essays and see photos of this project, please visit the Toll Gate TASK website at

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