A Season for Giving

For some, “Home for the Holidays” means time off from school and work, celebrating with and traveling to see family and friends. For many other families across America, however, the holiday season is a source of immense stress, especially those facing food insecurity and hunger. More than 13 million kids in this country go to school hungry, depending on free or reduced-price school meals for their basic nutrition. And when schools let out for winter break—often two weeks in length—low-income families struggle to fill the gap.

At Turnitin, many employees are former educators or administrators that have worked in public elementary, middle, and high schools. They have seen firsthand the very real and serious effects of food insecurity on students and families. As the holiday season approached, one Turnitin team in Pittsburgh, PA, wanted to address this prevailing challenge and make a meaningful impact.

This Turnitin team is particularly knowledgeable about education: amongst them, they have over 40 years total of experience as teachers, curriculum coaches, and administrators. They have worked in consulting, curriculum development, higher ed, and tutoring, but the vast majority of their work has been in public school systems. This past August, this same team raised money for a school supply drive and delivered Clorox wipes, paper, pencils, folders, and other materials to a handful of very grateful teachers. It came as no surprise that they would approach this season of giving with the same heartfelt intention.   

Instead of simply sending money to a national organization, the team sought to create a partnership with a local school district with a high poverty level. Supported by their fellow employees and managers—and with the help of one very tenacious office manager—they raised over $400 for the school district in need. From soup and peanut butter to granola bars and applesauce, the team purchased a variety of food items with these funds, then packed over twenty bags with care, filling them with love and nourishment for the long winter break. Afterwards, they drove to the district and handed the donations directly to the principal, who planned to deliver the care packages to teachers throughout the school later in the week.

A few days later, the Turnitin team received an email. The principal from the school had included over 130 photographs of grinning teachers as they received care packages for their neediest students. Some of the instructors had looks of surprise and shock, while others simply had smiles from ear to ear. Hours later—and far from the lens of any camera—students from all over the school headed home for winter break. And thanks to the big hearts of one particular Turnitin team, the bags in their hands were filled with items that might just make their holiday season a little brighter.