Thanks-For-Giving a real-world lesson in caring

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Nov. 18—TRAVERSE CITY — Professional communications students at Northwestern Michigan College are finishing their "Thanks-For-Giving" project.

Instructor Kristy McDonald said she started this 10 years ago to "teach this real world."

"Each student has a safe place to practice their communication," McDonald said.

Her students do all the work on this project — from writing letters to local businesses to picking up donations and distributing them to area families.

The goal, she said, is to fill local pantries ahead of Thanksgiving.

Last year, students received enough donations to provide 150 meals for community members ahead of Thanksgiving. This year, the goal was 125, but students collected enough for 135 meals.

Fifty meals will be for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan and 85 will go to the NMC Food Pantry on Monday. Boxes include turkey, side dishes, pies, recipe cards and more. McDonald said students are planning to add games this year too.

"Now we make individual meals for individual families — not only for NMC but also community-based," McDonald said. "Anyone that needs the extra help."

Each class adds to the project. This year, Traverse City West Senior High School and NMC student Emma Herrington said they changed the name to "Thanks-For-Giving," dropping the "Food for Thought" portion. They did not want to be mixed up with local business Food for Thought.

McDonald said that company is a regular donor. Others include TentCraft, which supplied instant potatoes for the meal boxes. She added that around 50 community members are involved in some way.

Herrington is on the marketing team for this project. As part of that, she helped organize a Glow Skate event in early November at Howe Arena.

"It's a nice way to get the community involved and have them donate," she said.

The class also collected pop cans around the NMC campus, with proceeds go to "Thanks-For-Giving."

Businesses can contact McDonald at if they are interested in collecting items or donating to the project.