Lehman teacher, students help Operation Turkey meet 75,000 meal goal this Thanksgiving

While many slept in or watched annual parades Thanksgiving morning, Lehman High educator David Abdelmaseih and several of his social studies students gave back to their community.

They delivered meals to those who are food insecure in Hays County via Operation Turkey, a Central Texas-based operation that distributed 75,000 meals this Thanksgiving.

“Whatever needs to be done Thursday, we’ll do it,” Abdelmaseih said early last week.

Abdelmaseih brought 50 of his students to Operation Turkey on Thanksgiving Day 2017 to package and deliver meals all over San Marcos and the county. This year, Abdelmaseih returned with Rho Kappa, the student-led social studies honor society, which packaged and delivered turkey, stuffing and potatoes to those both with and without homes.

Operation Turkey began in 2000 when Richard Bagdonas, a San Marcos man, wrapped up a plate of Thanksgiving food and began to drive home. Instead, Bagdonas drove to 6th Street in Austin and delivered his meal to a homeless man using a wheelchair. In the years following, Operation Turkey grew to several cities and states and aims to feed 75,000 people this year.

Abdelmaseih volunteered in Austin for six years before volunteering in San Marcos in 2017 with his students and their families.

“I stress to my students the idea that it’s more important to give back than to give to yourself,” Abdelmaseih said. “You get a little choked up on the day seeing how many people are willing to come out and help others. That’s very emblematic of Thanksgiving and my students get to learn that.”

The problem of food insecurity dates back decades and will continue still after the holidays. Hays County Food Bank estimates that one in seven residents, or 24,940 residents including both those with and without homes, are food insecure, even during the holidays.

Qwynci Bowman, a Lehman senior and president of Rho Kappa, said she learned about food insecurity when volunteering to drive and deliver meals last year. She returned with the organization again this holiday.

“It’s different when you’re the one dropping off the meals and meeting people,” Bowman said. “I learned more about the world and how people live different.”

Bowman said the first person she delivered to was a man who could not get up on his own to accept his food, but she felt grateful she could help him and other people.

Operation Turkey began early Thanksgiving morning and concluded around noon time. Abdelmaseih, however, said he took the whole day for volunteering, as he has for years.

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