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Santa and that old sleepy shoemaker relied on tireless (non-unionized) elves.

No elves were spotted clocking in at Beacon College this week. Still, the group of altruistic students who banded together for good before classes Tuesday morning proved as industrious.

Into a Dodge sleigh, er, pickup truck, members of the Beacon Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Gamma Beta Phi, Lambda Epsilon Omega and the Equestrian Club loaded bins, boxes, and crates loaded with canned soup, canned chicken, pinto and kidney beans and other nonperishables or stuffed with 30 Publix turkeys.

Next stop, the Leesburg Food Bank, Inc., for students to deliver a care package to needy Lake County residents who might go without a nourishing meal on the day America gives thanks for its blessings with gut-busting feasts.

Avery Zupanc, a sophomore majoring in human services, said, “it makes me feel good when I [get] these opportunities,” adding she loves “the feeling of doing good.”

The early morning mission of mercy marked the first year that several Beacon clubs collaborated on a community service project. Dr. Kerry Greenstein, dean of student affairs, earlier this year had encouraged more partnership between clubs and organizations.

Leesburg Food Bank - Thanksgiving Drive
Lambda Epsilon Omega and Equestrian Club members at Beacon College load turkeys and canned goods at Leesburg Food Bank.

As it turns out, Lambda Epsilon Omega had planned a turkey drive — using club dues to help buy the birds. The Equestrian Club was busy promoting a canned food drive that morphed into a bake sale after club advisor Cathy Lutes suggested club members could use the proceeds to buy turkeys for the food bank.

“I thought it would be more beneficial to our students by incorporating a more hands on approach instead of asking others to donate, and that the food bank would benefit more by our joint efforts,” said Lutes, a library administrative assistant.

Lutes coordinated with Ray Ramos, student housing facilities supervisor and Lambda Epsilon Omega advisor. The joint hunger taskforce fell into place after that.

At the foodbank, close to Beacon’s downtown campus, the student-delivered haul tipped the scales at 536 pounds.

And every bit helps.

Beacon Students at Food Bank One in six Central Floridians struggle with hunger and food insecurity. That’s the term the U.S. Department of Agriculture applies to individuals’ “lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods,” according to Feeding America, a national advocacy group dedicated to defeating hunger through a nationwide network of member food banks.

Similarly, in Lake County, 45,120 face every day uncertain about putting food on the table.

A reality lesson and lesson in compassion that Lutes said the college’s adventure in altruism nicely served up.

“I think it is important that we teach the future generation about giving,” she said, “and never take for granted what we do have.”

A lesson that Kyle Maloney, a freshman who is majoring in computer information systems, took to heart.

“I got [happiness in seeing the volunteer’s faces when we came in with 30 more turkeys, and in knowing that now 30 more families will be able to have Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “It helps the community grow and you just feel better helping those who are in need.”