Excitement is building at Western High School. In just a couple of weeks, the school will become Harvest Drive headquarters. Almost overnight, the gymnasium will transform into a grocery supply warehouse and the auditorium will soon resemble a department store.
Founder Renee Herman says she never envisioned this when she started Harvest Drive as a simple canned food drive at nearby Country Isles Elementary School. Over the past 27 years it has exploded into a county-wide effort. It now serves 2,400 families each holiday season, providing Thanksgiving meals for over 10,000 people.
While Harvest Drive has become pretty much a full-time job for Herman and her team of dedicated volunteers, she says it’s really all about the students. “Since day one, our mission has always been to teach children at a young age that their contributions can make a difference in the lives of others. They are learning that kindness really does matter. It’s a lesson that many of our kids take into adulthood. Every year I’m touched by the number of new young adults who call and ask if they can come back to ‘harvest’ with us. Today we have generations of families ‘harvesting’ together.”
While Harvest Drive takes place across Broward County, its heart is at Western High School. Student volunteers are busy collecting and sorting donations which will soon provide over 400 families with complete Thanksgiving meals along with a week’s worth of groceries and other personal hygiene items.
In addition to providing food for those in need, Harvest Drive also runs two boutiques. Throughout the year, volunteers have been busy collecting, sorting, sizing and tagging donations of new and gently used clothing, shoes, toys, books, linens, household items and much more. Recipient families work with personal shoppers to fill their bags with their most needed items. For many of these families, the toys they select will be their children’s only holiday presents.
Herman encourages everyone in the community to support Harvest Drive’s effort. While donations for the boutique are accepted year-round, food donations are taking place now in local schools and at area Publix supermarkets. You can also drop-off donations at Western High School on Friday, November 22nd, from 3-9pm. Volunteers will be on hand to help unload your car.
Harvest Drive seeks non-perishable items for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as everyday grocery staples such as canned tuna, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, macaroni and cheese, rice, pasta, and pancake mix. Herman says no glass jars and please no canned vegetables. Grocery gift cards and monetary donations are welcome to purchase perishable items. This year Harvest Drive is putting out a push for hygiene items such as deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, bar soap, body wash, toothpaste and toothbrushes, just no razors. For more information on how you can support Harvest Drive call 954-444-5548 or visit www.HarvestDriveFlorida.com. Harvest Drive is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization; 100% of donations go directly to families in need.