Laurel school volunteers, businesses partner to provide holiday meals

This past Thanksgiving, Ronald Dortch helped provide 72 families – more than 200 individuals – a holiday dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, beans, yams, cranberries and more. The Laurel resident, who is PTSA president of Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School and a PTSA executive board member at Laurel High and Laurel Elementary schools, did not do it alone.

“At Thanksgiving, I get with local businesses to see if they will help us feed the less fortunate families in these schools,” Dortch said. “That’s a whole lot of families.”

Dortch has organized the dinners for seven years, and has been able to count on the support of Tischer Acura Nissan each year.

“He is a good guy who does a lot for the community,” said Danny Sauro, owner of the dealership. “We try to help out as much as we can.”

Tischer Acura Nissan helped feed 50 families, Sauro said. Last year, the dealership donated 106 bicycles and helmets to students with perfect attendance at Eisenhower Middle School as part of an initiative Dortch started to encourage youth to attend school.

“We have a lot of people come in and ask for donations,” Sauro said. “I’m really impressed with him and how much he gives back to the community. I think he has done a great job.”

The Laurel Walmart, which reduced prices for Dortch’s Thanksgiving items, helped load the truck to deliver the food to Eisenhower Middle and Laurel High. PTSA members and school staff then helped put the baskets of meals together.

“Everything you eat on Thanksgiving, we make sure is in those bags,” Dortch said. “Outside of school, this is what they [students] eat.”

Dortch helps with a similar drive at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church at Christmas. While the church organizes it, Dortch helps with the delivery.

“It is a similar meal, though a little bit more [food] because they are out of school a little bit longer,” he said. “We do our best to try and accommodate everyone.”

Auto Nation of Laurel helps collect toys to include with the Christmas meals, Dortch said.

“It is our very own Toys for Tots,” Dortch said.

While he may organize the various drives, Dortch is quick to give credit to the businesses that have supported his programs.

“I want these organizations that have helped me so much get recognized,” Dortch said. “It’s a true sign that big businesses do care about people.”

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