MASC students bring Thanksgiving meals to Mundelein families

MacKenzie Stewart, News & Opinion & Online Editor

One of Mundelein’s largest community service student organizations, Mundelein After School Coalition, or MASC, will be hosting its annual Turkey Drive on Nov. 26. Fueled by donations from the community, MHS students partner with middle schoolers, parents and the Mundelein Police Department to provide turkeys and other Thanksgiving food items to Mundelein families.

“[The volunteers] meet at the police department, and we go out, and we deliver maybe 40 turkeys and also the fixin’s with turkeys, different foods, mashed potatoes, things that you have on the side with turkey [and] pies. We donate a big turkey meal and Thanksgiving meal to families,” said Officer Steve Balogh, school resource officer and the MASC adviser for the past three years.

MASC is an organization that seeks to promote community service with the help of certain selected middle school students who come together in monthly meetings at the police department.

“MASC is a club where we plan community activities to help make Mundelein a better community and to help the people around us,” Avery Refka, sophomore and president of MASC, said.

The Turkey Drive provides volunteers with an opportunity to come together to unite in a common cause to serve families that aren’t able to afford a large Thanksgiving meal, and the amount of food that is donated wouldn’t be possible without the help of the middle school students.

“The middle schoolers all advertise for the Thanksgiving food drive, and everybody from the middle schools donate food, and then we all come together at the police station on one day, and we pack the baskets,” Refka said.

In an event that takes between two and three hours, parent volunteers along with Officer Balogh take groups of students around the town to deliver the meals, so volunteering isn’t exclusive to MASC participants.

“[The food drive] is open to anybody. So, if you’re involved in the club, you can bring anybody you want, and the more people you have, the more fun it is, and you really get to see how you are helping the community,” Refka said.

Sophomore Angelina Rizzo, MASC secretary, also added that other outside organizations, like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, have members come to assist the MASC volunteers.

One of the best aspects of this event is the ability volunteers have to see the impact their efforts have on the families to whom they deliver the meals.

“My favorite part is when the people open the doors,” Refka said. “You get to see how happy they are that people actually care about them, and they know that they have people in the community that they can rely on. It may be small, but we’re there to help them, and it also makes you see how grateful you are for all the things that you have because you’re able to give back to other people.”

Rizzo also agreed, and she expanded on her favorite aspects of the club as a whole.

“My favorite part about MASC is actually helping out and volunteering and having a way to give back to the community,” Rizzo said. “I love going to Feed My Starving Children, [and] I like delivering the turkeys in the baskets.”

As a result, MASC isn’t just about giving back to the community during the holidays.

“My favorite part of MASC in general is the willingness of the kids to come forward and take part in community service with it not being a discipline,” Balogh said. “It’s that they actually want to be a part of this and do something good for the community, which is cool to see.”