GiGi’s Thanksgiving Food Drive – Building Leaders & Helping Neighbors

Co-chairs and Fantastic Friends Leader Jenn organizing food donations.

In the past few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, GiGi’s Fantastic Friends (18+) participants successfully coordinated a food drive to collect food and other items to donate to the local Lighthouse Shelter. The group asked the community to donate items such as traditional Thanksgiving foods like green beans, stuffing, and gravy, as well as gift cards to grocery stores and toothbrushes and toothpaste. The group was able to collect all the items on their list in such a short amount of time!

Jennifer Winslow oversaw the food drive. She says, “During the Fantastic Friends program we talked about a number of ways we have been, and could be, helpful to others in our community. GiGi’s participants LOVE to be helpful and have truly generous hearts. During our Community Service program, we began talking about ways we could give back to the community even when we are not able to go many places or be around people.”

Two of the adult participants, Ronnie and Hannah, volunteered to help and coordinate the project.


Hannah says, “It feels good to help people in need,” and “would like to do it again in the future.”

“I loved doing this to help people. I really care about people. I want to do this again!” says Ronnie.

The co-chairs, along with Jennifer sorted, packed, and delivered the donations to the Lighthouse Shelter. Although we are not able to physically help one another, the Fantastic Friends participants were still able to give back this holiday season in a safe manner. The food drive was a hit with GiGi’s families and something the group wants to continue in the future. Everyone can mobilize and support their community!

Thank you Pediatric Specialists for your in kind donations.

Thank you to GiGi’s outstanding participants for thinking creatively and working enthusiastically and cautiously! We appreciate everyone who so generously donated non-perishable items, including The Pediatric Specialists Dental Clinic who provided toothbrushes and toothpaste. And a big thank you to our awesome co-chairs for stepping up to the plate. GiGi’s is building leaders!

Delivering food donations to the Light House Shelter.

GiGi’s Fantastic Friends program supports the development of social skills and language through peer-to-peer interaction in a casual fun setting. Adult participants participate in the planning of activities so that group activities are based on personal interests. During Fantastic Friends, the group may participate in active games, dancing or exploring their local community by participating in outings and events. We recommend Fantastic Friends for ages 18 years and older.

Interested in joining an awesome group of participants in the GiGi’s Fantastic Friends Program? The group meets on alternating Thursdays at 4:30pm and Fridays at 7pm. Please RSVP on our online calendar.


Written By: Camille Manucia, UMD Student, GiGi’s Communications Intern

Edited By: Doni Dondero

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