A Bittersweet Thanksgiving


Rylyn Christopher, Reporter

Loudoun County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, yet, there are some students whose families cannot afford a Thanksgiving meal. This is the case for 95% of the children at Guilford Elementary School, which is located in Sterling, Virginia.

Many students are sons and daughters of immigrants living paycheck to paycheck. A teacher at Guilford said “winter is an especially difficult time for the families of these students.” It is not uncommon for teachers to see boys and girls coming to school in the same clothes every day or without a winter coat, sometimes even without a sweatshirt. Efforts have been put in place to help. The school provides extra support around the holidays, helps families find and obtain medical care, and gives students free coats and shoes. Organizations and groups, such as Reston Bible Church, have helped with these efforts. The school also hosts events like the annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

In the past years, Guilford has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the neighboring communities, opening their doors to families who could go in the building and enjoy delicious, free meals. Throngs of people would line the hallways, waiting to crowd into the cafeteria. Middle school music students, such as choir and band, come to perform at the school as well. Due to COVID-19, the school was unable to host the event during both the 2020-2021 school year and the 2021-2022 school year. This year, in place of the dinner, donations were collected and put into bags that were then distributed to families. The bags included canned goods and easy-to-make dishes. These efforts do help, but ideally, Guilford hopes to begin hosting dinner again next school year as it is essential for some families who are in desperate need. Staff members at Guilford are still unsure whether the dinner will be taking place next school year.

The majority of students at Briar Woods are fortunate to be able to have lots of food this Thanksgiving; however, it is not just the students at Guilford who don’t have this luxury. There are young people around the world whose families can’t afford meals for them.

The harsh reality is that many hardworking, loving parents have lost jobs because of COVID-19 and still have not been able to find work. There are several ways to support families in need this holiday season, including giving donations to local food or clothing drives, donating money through churches, or pledging money to GoFundMe pages. Briar Woods has had several canned food drives and coat drives that students can donate to by dropping supplies off at school. Look at the BWHS Calendar for more information on upcoming events! With all the options, it’s easy to donate. Even a small donation can make a big impact.