LACEY – It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in the township without the annual pre-Thanksgiving Day brunch held in the cafeteria of the township’s high school.
The event held each morning the day before Thanksgiving is hosted by the Special Education Class at Lacey High School.
Students and staff along with interns coordinate the brunch which includes a variety of festive food ranging from quiche’, bacon, sausage, pork roll, scrambled eggs and much more.
No one present during the event could pinpoint the exact year it started but according to Special Education Teacher Renee Risden and other staff, it began at least two decades ago.
Risden said the event is a way “to thank all those in the community who support our (special education) program.”
Risden had a long list of people to thank including the administration, Board of Education, township police department, several local businesses and most especially the Woman’s Club of Lacey.
A large number of members from the Woman’s Club of Lacey come out for the event each year to enjoy the occasion and to present a check to Risden.
New Club President Lori Vircillo, who took the reins of leadership in September, and is a former school teacher from the district, presented a check of $1,350 to assist with various classroom needs during the event.
Risden said that the club has previously sponsored class trips, provided funds for classroom supplies and raised money for hearing aids and other items for students with special needs.
As per tradition, attendees were greeted at the door by both students and high school interns who are studying to go into the special education profession, at the Thanksgiving tree where one could write down what they were thankful for on a piece of paper attached to a string and hang it on a branch of the tree.
Former Woman’s Club of Lacey President Nancy Fortin said that she’s been a member of the organization for 17 years and that it is affiliated with a Federation of Women’s clubs.
Fortin added that the brunch has a special place in the hearts of their membership. “We raise the money from 50/50 sales at our club meetings, car parties and now during our bus trips.”
“The club’s donations have been used toward field trips, a refrigerator and helped a student who had just had a hearing implant procedure done,” Fortin said.
Bunni McGauley, a retired district special education paraprofessional and a member of the Woman’s Club of Lacey, is another fixture at the brunch. She attended this year’s brunch and several past students couldn’t wait to give her a hug.
McGauley said previously that the brunch evolved over the years from an effort to help a young disabled student whose parents were in need.
“I had come to the Woman’s Club asking if they might be able to help the family with one item on a list we had prepared to help them during the holidays,” McGauley said.
McGauley said that a few weeks later “they asked me to come to their meeting and I was shocked. They had wrapped up presents that included all the items on the list and more. After that they had given the class a check each year during the brunch.”
“From that one project it had snowballed to something so special,” McGauley said.