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Pacific Lutheran University students continue food drive tradition despite pandemic

Nursing students at PLU made big changes to a Thanksgiving food drive to make sure it could go on for families struggling this year.

PARKLAND, Wash. — Providing Thanksgiving meals to families in need has been a tradition for the nursing students and faculty at Pacific Lutheran University since 1991.  

The Turkey Basket Drive” allows nursing students to fill baskets and distribute them to needy families in Pierce County. 

“We basically include everything in a basket that a family would need to feed a family of six to eight for a Thanksgiving meal,” Jonathan Allison explained.

Last year, they helped about 180 families and wanted to do more this year. But how would it even be possible with the campus closed and students learning from home? The group considered canceling but realized their help might be needed more than ever this year.  

“I think with COVID, it makes it more clear how much we need to be helping each other,” Allison said.

Through Go Fund Me and some help from QFC, they raised $5,000 and hit the store Sunday to buy the food.  

RELATED: Oak Harbor volunteers scramble to feed the hungry after Thanksgiving feast canceled

The students will have to wear masks and gloves to assemble the baskets and try to keep their distance.

Things are different this year, but the love and compassion behind it remain the same. Students say it might be more meaningful than ever.  

“I think we as nursing students, most of us have that drive to be compassionate and love on our community, so I think this has been a great opportunity to see how we can all come together and really make a difference,” student Erin Bennett explained.

They will distribute most of the baskets at a drive-through location at the school Tuesday. 

They will do doorstep deliveries for families that don't have transportation or are concerned about going out.  

“When we look at food insecurity in our area and in our state, it's huge and so this is just a way we can make a meaningful impact on our community,” Allison said.

RELATED: Seattle-area charities work together to provide Thanksgiving meals to those in need