Following nearly a month of fundraising and food collection efforts, more than 200 students and parent volunteers from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach gathered in St. Anthony’s parish hall on Nov. 24 to serve early Thanksgiving meals to more than 850 homeless and underprivileged families from the local community.
To help make the annual tradition a reality, students and their families, teachers and school administrators collected food contributions and monetary donations for most of November. The combined effort was so successful that the school was able to contribute more than 25 extra hams and turkeys to local homeless shelters and food banks, including New Life Beginnings and the Long Beach Rescue Mission.
Volunteer cooks and servers showed up early in the morning to help St. Anthony chef and parent Siegfried Heger cook and prepare the Thanksgiving meals, which included turkey, ham, carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, stuffing and bread, as well as cupcakes, pumpkin and apple pies, hot coffee and juice.
While the meal was being served in the parish hall, students and parent volunteers also prepared numerous family care packages to send to families affected by the typhoon in the Philippines, and also helped deliver multiple dinners to homeless and less fortunate men and women in Lincoln Park at City Hall.
“It’s all about caring and supporting our community,” said Allison Zanatta, a sophomore at St. Anthony’s. “St. Anthony High School is about much more than studying and sports; we are part of the greater Long Beach community and we support it every day. It’s fun, uplifting and important that we make a difference in our community and come together, especially during the holiday season.”
St. Anthony principal honored
During a mid-November gala event hosted by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Gina Maguire, president of St. Anthony High School, was named Amazing Woman of the Year in the category of education.
She was recognized for numerous achievements, including her role as a founder of Leadership Long Beach; starting an outpatient treatment center for women alcoholics; and her dedication to “reinvigorating and restoring” her (and her husband Tom’s) alma mater, St. Anthony’s.
Maguire took over then-struggling St. Anthony High School in 2001 and led the effort to keep it from closing and restore it to its former glory. As a result, over the last 12 years the 93-year-old school’s reputation has grown steadily, statewide and nationally.
“It was no surprise to any of us connected with St. Anthony’s that Gina Maguire was selected for this award,” said Ken Miller, former chair of St. Anthony’s advisory council and school alumnus. “Through sheer determination, hard work, a commitment to never giving up and smart planning, Gina has not only saved our venerable alma mater from collapsing, but has led the way for a resurgence [of] student growth, the refurbishing of our academic facilities and [much more].
“In short, Gina has taken it upon herself to ensure that the legacy of this precious school not only survives but now has its best years ahead of us,” he concluded.