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TOWNSEND — Schools often help donate food to the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach during the holiday season.

One way to encourage giving is through the Turkey Trots that Hawthorne Brook Middle School and Squannacook Elementary School will hold on Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Participants must bring two canned goods in order to take part in the 1-mile run or walk. All food collected will be donated to the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach (TEO).

“We are just trying to get more donations for TEO,” said Christine Morassi, Squannacook principal.

Squannacook Turkey Trot coordinator and fourth grade teacher Lisa Comeau says that she already has 245 students signed up.

“The deadline is Tuesday the 18th, so I am expecting about 20 more kids to sign up,” Comeau said.

This is a promising number for Comeau, who is bringing the Turkey Trot to Squannacook for the first time after teaching at Hawthorne Brook and enjoying their Turkey Trot.

On the day of the event, seventh-graders will join a faculty member (dressed up as a turkey) on the course from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. Students in grade six will participate from 12:50 to 1:30. As the oldest in the school, eighth-graders will participate from 1:30 to 2:10 p.m.

On the Squannacook course, the third-graders will participate from 1:30 to 2 p.m. Fourth-grade students can run or walk from 2 to 2:30 and fifth-graders take the final slot of the day, from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

The hype for the event has been building in the schools. Many posters are placed throughout both buildings.

“McNabb’s Pharmacy donated two dancing turkeys that dance during each lunch period,” said Hawthorne Brook student coordinator Amy Clement.

During an all-school assembly, Comeau explained the Turkey Trot to the elementary schoolers. Students have been excited ever since.

“It is elementary school. With the chance of running outside right before Thanksgiving vacation, all the staff had to do was remind kids to bring in their cans and they stayed excited,” Comeau said.

For Hawthorne Brook faculty coordinator Jody Dupuis and the dedicated group of students at that school, the event comes after long hours of planning.

“First we have a T-shirt drawing contest, which goes on the shirts that people buy. I had to create a notice that stated the contest rules and the rules for entering the run/walk,” Clement explained.

Sponsors who have contributed more than $50 worth of prizes or money have their names on the shirts, designed by Vicki Pappas.

The big six contributors this year were Evans, Hannaford, Kenyon Construction, McDonald’s, McNabb’s Pharmacy and Wal-Mart.

“You have to go out and get prizes after creating a donation letter that has been approved by the administration,” Clement said.

Other donations, to be offered as prizes in a raffle after the walk, were given by Cinema World, Patriot Pizza, Pizza Pizzazz and Townsend Pizza.

Hannaford, McNabb’s Pharmacy and the Squannacook student council will pay for the shirts for the event. Trudie’s Treats in Lunenburg, Patriot Pizza, Central Plaza Pizza, and Dunkin’ Donuts have also donated to Squannacook’s Turkey Trot.

Even though it is hard work to put together this event, all involved in the planning at both schools enjoyed helping out for a good cause.

“I like to be involved and I also like to run things,” Clement said.

For now, however, Clement and the others at Hawthorne Brook and Squannacook are focusing their efforts on the 2008 Turkey Trots and on making it a success.

To donate to the Turkey Trot or to the TEO Thanksgiving baskets, drop off canned goods or other non-perishable foods to the main office of Hawthorne Brook or Squannacook. Donations can also be delivered to the TEO building at 82 Bayberry Hill Road, Townsend.