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Donation provides turkey, food for 500 city families

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Crystal James, left, is shown with her mother, Lisa Ashford, after they received a turkey and food for Thanksgiving at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Youngstown. “We have a lot of kids,” Ashford said Tuesday when asked if the food will help her family.

YOUNGSTOWN — “Are you hungry? I’m hungry. I can’t wait!” teacher Chris Stanley told a family driving up to the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School on Mariner Avenue on Tuesday afternoon.

He was talking about his Thanksgiving meal, which will be on Thursday.

Stanley, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies, worked with other teachers to hand out Thanksgiving turkeys, stuffing, corn and potatoes to students’ families.

Stanley said he spoke with John Schuler, director of marketing and communications for Sodexo / Roth on Crim Road in Youngstown recently, and learned the company wanted to give back to the community by providing dinners for 500 families. He suggested donating the food to the families in Youngstown City Schools.

Sodexo / Roth, which is in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, handyman and maintenance business, agreed.

On Tuesday afternoon, the company provided the food for a Thanksgiving dinner for 200 families at MLK, 100 families at Taft Elementary and 200 at McGuffey.

Amanda Karr appreciated the turkey and other food she received, but her son, David Zarlingo, 4, was especially happy to see one of his teachers, Gloria Rodriguez, as his mother drove up to the area where the food was being loaded into the families’ cars.

“It’s always fun for them just to see people they don’t normally see,” Karr said of David and his brother, Trey Zarlingo, 3. Both boys are in preschool at MLK.

“They just don’t get the interaction, and the teachers are just amazing,” Karr said.

Nikki Hanley, assistant principal at MLK, said she thinks the food is much appreciated at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic because everyone is being urged to have small Thanksgiving gatherings, which means more gatherings than normal.

“More supplies are needed for each household,” she said.

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