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Thanks to the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) at Salus University, this year’s Thanksgiving Food Drive – the 15th year that the group has conducted such a drive on campus – once again exceeded its goal of providing for needy families.

For the past few weeks in November, enough food items for a full Thanksgiving dinner were donated by students, faculty, residents and the Salus community at large in NOSA boxes near the ATM machine on the first floor of the University’s Elkins Park, Pa. campus.

The goal this year was to provide 35 families with Thanksgiving baskets. But the effort collected enough donations to exceed that goal and provide a basket for an additional family.

“Each year we not only meet but exceed our goal thanks to the help of the Salus community and its generosity,” said Ashley Wright ‘21OD, vice president of NOSA and coordinator of the service project. “Our main focus is to ensure these families have a full Thanksgiving meal and are able to enjoy the holiday without having to stress over the lack of resources needed to feed their families during this time.”

Food-Drive-2.jpgDonations collected through Nov. 21 were divided up according to the first initial of one’s last name to ensure equal distribution. Those with names A to D donated boxed stuffing and packaged gravy; E to H, green beans and corn; I to L, yams and powdered drinks; M to P, cranberry sauce and bottled water; Q to S, Jiffy cornbread and bottled water; T to Z, macaroni and cheese and boxed mashed potatoes.

Wright and the other NOSA board members – including president Kierra Washington ‘21OD, historian Darnel James ’23OD, and fundraiser chair Anastasia Perry ’23OD – started preparing the baskets on Friday, Nov. 22, and finished the remaining packaging on Tuesday, Nov. 26, with help from other NOSA members.

The distribution of the meals was coordinated by Salus bursar Ether Colon and retired assistant bursar, David Wisher – two of the “originals” who, along with Dr. Nacondos (Grayson) Gamble, and Dr. Janice Goodman, conceived the idea in 2004. Advisor for the food drive was Dr. Ruth Shoge.

The baskets were given to Calvary Church in Wyncote, Pa., to a local mosque and other families in need. None of the meals were pre-prepared; all baskets included non-perishable items so the families could prepare the meals at their convenience.

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“I have always had a passion for service,” said Wright, whose job as coordinator of the drive is to collect donations from the Salus community and organize the food baskets to make sure each family receives a full meal that they can prepare at home. “This is definitely not my first rodeo as I have been involved in many service projects in the past with my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I have always loved helping others and that is the primary reason I chose the profession of optometry. The entire NOSA organization strives to serve for the betterment of our community and advancement of the underprivileged.”