Alex Franciscotti Loaiza couldn’t wait to be in sixth grade at Eldorado Elementary School. Out of all the canned items and bagged foods collected for the Highlands Ranch school’s annual turkey …
Alex Franciscotti Loaiza couldn’t wait to be in sixth grade at Eldorado Elementary School.
Out of all the canned items and bagged foods collected for the Highlands Ranch school’s annual turkey drive, sixth-graders are in charge of the staple of a Thanksgiving meal: the turkey.
“I’ve been waiting all of my school years until I was in sixth grade so I could bring a turkey,” the 11-year-old said as she raced to the back doors of the school, where a moving truck quickly filling with boxes of food was parked.
Eldorado’s turkey drive started 12 years ago as a former student’s Boy Scouts project. As the project grew, Jennifer Miller, whose son started the project, reached out to the school’s government class to help coordinate.
Each grade is assigned a food item to bring to add to a pyramid of donated items located in the school’s main hallway. Before Thanksgiving, the collected items are sent to the Denver Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter that serves the Denver metro area.
“It really has become a community event,” said Inga McAllen, a third-grade teacher and adviser of student government. “It is something the Eldorado community looks forward to each year.”
Brian Wilkinson and his wife, Susie, whose children went to Eldorado, are instrumental in transporting the collected items to the rescue mission’s warehouse near downtown Denver. Wilkinson, general manager of Aeronet, a logistics company based in Centennial, volunteers his moving truck and services for pick-up and delivery.
“We are blessed folks,” Wilkinson said. “Someone’s got to do it — kindness never stops.”
This year, Eldorado students collected 66 turkeys. After picking up the collected items on Nov. 16, Wilkinson’s truck stopped by Saddle Ranch Elementary and Coyote Creek Elementary, which both participated in this year's turkey drive.
The school that collects the most turkeys receives a “Golden Gobbler” trophy.