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Ava Compagnoni ’23 Makes Sure Thanksgiving Tables Are Full

Every year as Thanksgiving nears, Ava Compagnoni ’23 and her family help run a food drive to provide families in South Jersey with holiday meals. Things looked a bit different in 2020.

In a typical year, the Compagnoni family is part of a team of 40 people working with the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) to provide holiday food baskets to 140 New Jersey families in Woodbury Heights, Woodbury, West Deptford, Mantua, Sewell, and Westville. Due to COVID-19 and a resulting decrease in volunteers, it fell to the Compagnonis and a few family friends to assemble and distribute the baskets.

The group determined they could serve 40 families this year. “We were really sad to see so many families on the waiting list, so we relied heavily on people to donate money through Venmo,” said Compagnoni. “These donations went straight to buying food, personal care items, and baby supplies not covered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) public health program.”

Thanks to donations generated in part by social media content posted by Compagnoni’s sister, the small group raised enough to provide meals for an additional 25 families.

Families served range in size from one to 10, said Compagnoni, who has a double major in media and communication and English, and a double minor in creative writing and management studies. SVDP also collects food donations from schools, businesses, and its community members in the Infant Jesus Parish in Woodbury, N.J., to assemble holiday food baskets at Christmas and Easter as well.

Compagnoni has been helping deliver the food baskets since she was a child. Seeing the impact firsthand has inspired her to continue helping others. “I am very fortunate to always have a meal on the table, and I believe that giving back is the most important thing to do, especially during the holidays.”