Over 800 community members packed Taylor Elementary School Nov. 21 for the school’s second annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Taylor Elementary School Principal Matthew Nuttall previously coordinated a similar event while working at a school on the east side of Indianapolis. He continued it with Taylor to help make sure everyone could have access to a Thanksgiving dinner.

In 2018, the event raised $1,500 with an attendance of 800. About 500 coats were also given away to those who needed them. Nuttall called the dinner’s inaugural year a huge success with an amazing turnout.

“We literally had about a cup of gravy and three slices of ham left,” he said.

The event has only grown since last year, so a committee was formed. Their goal was to raise more money to give the group more options. The fundraising was a success this year with a total of $3,000 raised in just a few weeks, doubling last year’s total. Because of the funds, $1,000 worth of coats were purchased for the event. The coats, hats, gloves and jackets were given away to those in need throughout the night.

Community businesses were also instrumental in the success of the event, providing most of the food, cups, plates and beverages.

Nuttall said none of this would have been possible without his team and the over 150 volunteers.

Food service director Paula Bolin was part of making sure all the food was ready for the evening both years of the event’s history. She said she loves being able to be part of an event which helps so many people.

“I have worked at Taylor Schools for over 20 years and that was the single most rewarding experience I’ve ever had,” she said.

Kindergarten teacher Shannon Shrader was part of the fundraising team and helped keep those efforts organized. She said she was amazed by the positive reaction and donations by the community.

“I was just in awe by the genorosity...,” she said. “It is really amazing and humbling.”

Megan Iseminger, along with her kids Jordan Iseminger and Jaylee Iseminger, are new to Taylor and wanted to check out the dinner for a fun night. Jordan was excited because he won a cup while playing ladder ball. Megan was thrilled to take everyone out for the meal and praised the hospitality.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “They’re so helpful and sweet.”

For Aspyn-Strom Shanks, the highlight of the evening was getting to eat two cupcakes – chocolate and one vanilla. Graycee Adcock was excited to get to play all the games the evening had to offer. She was even able to win a new mug.

Nuttall’s goal when coming to Taylor Elementary was for it to be a community center.

“This isn’t a Taylor event … it’s our community event,” said Nuttall. “I don’t care where you’re from, we serve everybody here.”

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