For the 28th year, Toll Gate Grammar School along with Hopewell Valley area schools, organizations and businesses are providing 700 Thanksgiving meals for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK).

This year’s meal preparation project kicked off at the “Gator Gathering,” a Toll Gate all-school event on November 11th. Cathy Brown, TASK event co-chair showed a slide presentation highlighting the many “tasks” necessary to ensure that everyone in the community can have a delicious homemade Thanksgiving dinner. Other fun yet informative elements helped the students understand the need for meals as well as their role in the project.

“There are places in our world where people wake up hungry in the morning, go to bed hungry at night and are not sure how they will feed themselves or their families. Some of these places are not far from where you live and where you go to school. One such place is called Trenton and the people who live there are our neighbors. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your neighbor is to lend a hand where a hand is needed, lend a smile where there may not be one and to do your part to bring joy to someone you may not even know,” said Brown.

Toll Gate students collected canned and boxed food with each Toll Gate Grammar grade being responsible for bringing in foods for a specific part of the meal including green beans, fruit juice, gravy, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, sugar and evaporated milk for the pies.

Local businesses donated turkeys including Gloria Nilson Realtors and Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s Realtors who donateed more than half of the 60 plus turkeys needed to provide these meals. Local families also donated turkeys which are being roasted and carved by volunteers at today’s Carve-a-Thon.

Nursery schools made cranberry relish, including The Painted Oak Nursery School and Little Leisure. Cub Scouts decorated lunch bags that Timberlane Middle School packed with lunches. Girls Scouts baked loaves of cornbread. And the community at large found it in their hearts to donate time and money to a task that resonates with what this time of year is all about: ”Giving Caring Sharing”.

Alongside Hopewell Valley Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Tom Smith, Pennington Mayor Tony Persichilli, Toll Gate Principal Tana Smith, Officer Steve, parents, grandparents and relatives, Toll Gate students will have prepared 275 sweet potato pies for TASK. Emily’s Café and Catering generously supplied pie boxes, which were assembled by 5th grade students, and pie ingredients. As students prepared the pies, Toll Gators joked that the final and most important ingredient is a “pinch of love” and, with so many generous individuals participating, that ingredient abounded.

Finally, third grade students will lend a hand unloading vans and transforming the dining hall at TASK as they cover the walls with handmade turkeys, fall leaves and messages of inspiration, made by every student at Toll Gate.

Cathy Brown and Pam Wallace have been co-chairs for several years. Cathy said that when she took over this position, she was told that this project essentially “runs itself”. She soon found out that is not the case. There are more hands that work together, than can be counted. Just as there are countless volunteers, filled with passion, to make sure that our neighbors at TASK will enjoy the same home cooked meal that each of us plans and looks forward to every year.

For more information about this project, please visit their web site:


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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.


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