After 13 years, Block D Turkey Drive Beginning To Come Full Circle

 

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by Joey Crandall, joey@carsonvalleytimes.com

GARDNERVILLE, Nev., November 20, 2014 — Douglas High School math teacher Marc Walling ponders for a moment how many Block D Turkey Drives he’s been a part of.

“You mean, as a teacher? Or when I was a student too?” he asks.

In answering a question with two more, he opens the door to a revelation about the annual food drive that brings in more than $5,000 in food and supplies for Carson Valley families in need during the holiday season.

Simply put, after 13 years, the event has taken on a life of its own.

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The Block D Letterman’s Club at Douglas High School sends its 100-110 members out door-to-door every fall soliciting monetary donations from the community and then pours it all into a one-day shopping spree. The resulting goods are then turned over to the Carson Valley Community Food Closet for distribution to local families in need during the holiday season.

“As a kid, it was still a newer thing, and I think at first the competitive side tended to take over,” Walling said. “You were just trying to to raise more money than your friends. But then the food drop-off comes, and you get to see the impact this actually has on people’s lives.

“That brought it back to reality for me. It wasn’t a game. This was something you could do to contribute. That was the fun part. That was my favorite part.”

Walling, in his seventh year of teaching at Douglas High, is an advisor for the Block D club, along with fellow Block D alumnus Joe Andrews and longtime Douglas teachers Ernie Monfiletto and Roger Rusmisel.

“That’s become a very fulfilling part of all of this for me and Roger,” Monfiletto said. “To have those guys back and doing what they are doing. The key to anything you do in teaching is building relationships with the kids. I was fortunate enough to have built relationships with these guys like Joe and Marc when they were students here, and now I have the privilege of watching them be able to do the same with the students today.

“Your ultimate hope is that the kids grow up wanting to emulate the things you have been encouraging them to do. But when they come back home to do it, that’s a special thing.”

It’s something current Block D officer Emily Lawrence is already planning to do.

“That’s something she talks about with us, wanting to come back and teach here and someday take over running the Block D club,” Monfiletto said. “There is a family aspect to this (the Turkey Drive) now, where kids have seen their older siblings do it, to where they’re coming back to watch the next generation of students do it. It’s become part of the fabric of the season.”

For Lawrence, this marked her third year participating in the Turkey Drive.

“It’s something I’ve looked forward to every year,” she said. “The beginning of the year is a lot of buckling down and going out to raise the money, but you get to see the nature of this community first hand through that. Just how giving and connected everyone is.

“Our community is just so close and there is such a positive atmosphere to it. Growing up here, I saw my brothers taking part in events like this for Block D and I always hoped to get to do that one day. It’s really cool to be a part of.”

As far as wanting to come back and teach someday in the area, Lawrence said that idea stems from the experiences she’s had of watching the teaching staff give to the students.

“The teachers I’ve had have made my high school experience just awesome,” she said. “High school is such a big part of your life, and they help us make the best of it.

“I want to be able to give a kid the same experience these teachers have given me. They are so involved, they are always going the extra mile. It means a lot, everything they do.”

Walling said one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Turkey Drive has been watching his students undergo the same transformation in motives he experienced as a student.

“What’s fun for me is to see the kids,” he said. “You see them on the playing field, see them in the classroom and in the club, and then you get to see them come and take ownership of these traditions. They see the importance of what is happening here.

“There is a bigger picture and they get glimpse of it with this, which is a neat thing.”

In total, the club raised $5,500 for this year’s drive. They purchased 150 turkeys from Savemart and spent the remaining $3,000 on food and supplies at Smith’s in Gardnerville.

Block D members grouped into six units with a budget of $500 each at Smith’s on Thursday. They occupied two cash register lines at the front of the store as the entire order was checked out. From there, they dropped off the haul at the food closet.

“We are so thankful to the community for really powering this,” Monfiletto said. “It can’t be said enough, this does not happen with out the people out there so willing to give to this effort.”

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