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Stronger Together: Annual MacTown Miracles Drive Overcomes Challenges of Pandemic to Provide Holiday Dinners for Families in Need

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Friday, December 18, 2020
  • This year, McKinney ISD high school students packed 722 complete turkey or ham holiday dinners and 300 starter kits in under 23 minutes during the MacTown Miracles packing event at McKinney North on Dec. 17.
  • McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel addresses the students gathered at McKinney North for the MacTown Miracles dinner packing: "We see what you are doing," he told them. "You are what makes McKinney ISD special."
  • Students sort canned vegetables as they prepare for the MacTown Miracles dinner packing process at McKinney North on Dec. 17.
  • The McKinney North Student Council organizes and leads MacTown Miracles, but they couldn't do it without the help of McKinney High School and McKinney Boyd. Here, MHS STUCO members wait to begin the dinner packing process at North on Dec. 17.
  • Things move quickly during the MacTown Miracles packing event.

McKinney, Texas – McKinney ISD Central Office receptionists get a lot of calls about a lot of different topics, but when Dulce Vasquez fielded a call from Tom Thumb grocers a week ago asking where they should deliver 700 frozen turkeys, that was a first.

For McKinney North High School Student Council (STUCO) sponsor Sarah Adams, it felt like a miracle.

For the past 14 years, the McKinney North High School STUCO—in conjunction with the student councils at McKinney Boyd and McKinney High School—has organized and led the annual food drive called MacTown Miracles that puts turkey dinners on the tables of hundreds of McKinney families in need during the holidays.

view of bags waiting to be filled

Seven hundred twenty-two bags wait to be filled at the annual MacTown Miracles event at McKinney North High School on Dec. 17, 2020.

Last year, MacTown Miracles produced over 1,000 holiday meals to distribute, and they were determined that the pandemic wouldn’t stop them this year. But, there were moments when Adams wondered if they would be able to meet the need.

“I was really worried about this year with everything going on in the the country, and I knew that the need was there,” Adams said. “We were so afraid that we weren’t going to be able to step up and fill that need.”

“I think a lot people don’t really realize how many people are dependent on this,” North STUCO President Ethan Gustafson said. “It definitely leaves a huge impact on the community, feeding that many families in need. So, it’s really just, honestly, kind of crucial that these families get what they need, especially this year more than ever.”

students wait with bags

Students from all three of McKinney ISD’s high schools work together each year to make MacTown Miracles happen. Here students wait for the signal to start packing the holiday dinners that include either a full turkey or a ham.

North has never been alone in the effort to make that happen; each year, the student councils and other student groups from McKinney Boyd and McKinney High School, along with middle schools and elementary schools throughout McKinney ISD, work together with North to gather food items and monetary donations.

It’s always a challenge, but this year, COVID-19 restrictions created roadblocks they had never encountered.

“We typically get most of our monetary and canned donations by setting up outside of businesses,” explained Adams. “But, all of the places that we normally use were having to turn us down because of the pandemic and not being able to allow people to be outside of the businesses.”

student holds bag while another places cans in it

This year, students packed 722 full holiday dinners and 300 starter kits in under 23 minutes at McKinney North High School.

So, the three MISD high schools got creative.

“We did a “Pie a Teacher” campaign here at North and lots of our teachers and coaches did their part,” said Adams. “The kids donated a little over $1,500 over the course of four days to help pay for a portion of the turkeys, and I know that the other high schools were doing similar things. So, everyone really had to step up this year and fill the gap.”

male student carrying bag

Students move through the McKinney North cafeteria to fill bags with complete turkey or ham dinners that will feed 722 families this holiday season.

As the effort picked up steam throughout the fall, requests for meals came in through community partners and a Google form that North set up. Food items were coming in, and MacTown Miracles had collected thousands of dollars to purchase turkeys—they just didn’t know where to get them. Due to supply issues, they couldn’t find anyone who could fill the order.

Adams brainstormed solutions with her students and campus administrators, but nothing seemed to pan out.

Adams pointing while talking with microphone

McKinney North Student Council sponsor Sarah Adams gives instructions during the MacTown Miracles meal packing at North on Dec. 17.

“We were truly at the point that we were going to go out and just start purchasing turkeys from all these different places and just try to find a way to fill the order,” said Adams.

Then Dulce Vasquez answered that phone call from Tom Thumb at Central Office. It was forwarded to North Principal Jae Gaskill. And, the news made its way to Sarah Adams.

“They were like, ‘Hey, we’ve got 700 turkeys for you.’ And, I was like, ‘This is an actual MacTown Miracle,’” said Adams. “So, this is wonderful.”

Coach holding turkeys to load in bags

Athletes and coaches do their part during the MacTown Miracles dinner packing by organizing and handing out the frozen turkeys and hams that will go out to families.

With the turkeys and all the other food items they brought in, MacTown Miracles packed 700 complete turkey dinners, plus 22 ham dinners and more than 300 additional holiday meal starter packs at North on Thursday, Dec. 17, in a festive flurry of activity that took less than 23 minutes from start to finish.

female student lifting bag onto back of truck

Members of the McKinney North soccer team load bagged holiday turkey and ham dinners onto a truck for delivery at McKinney North on Dec. 17.

To Adams, the whole process turned out to be a success.

“The kids just really took charge this year and reached out at the other high schools, and MISD stepped up,” said Adams. “It’s just been really touching for me to see the students recognize that their community has a need and then band together for the greater good—when it’s so easy in today’s society to kind of feel down in the current situation. Just seeing them create good in the world has been really, really fun.”

Ethan echoed that sentiment. “I think it really shows what this district is about and what we want to represent and do for our community,” he said. “This is a perfect example…if we all come together, we can really have an impact and cause change.”

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