Dance and vocal performances helped The Toll Gate Elementary School student body kick-off the school’s annual TASK Thanksgiving dinner preparation.

The Toll Gate Elementary School student body is getting ready for the annual preparation of nearly 700 complete Thanksgiving dinners for Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

For more than 30 years, the Toll Gate community has baked pies, donated canned and boxed goods, carved turkeys, packed delivery trucks, decorated the dining hall at TASK and delivered all the complete Thanksgiving meals.

“On behalf of the staff and students at Toll Gate Grammar School, we are pleased to be part of the effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners for our friends at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen,” interim Toll Gate Principal Jane-Ellen Lennon said in a statement. “This is a tradition that has been a part of the Toll Gate community for 31 years and we are grateful for all who contribute to this community effort.”

Today, fifth grade students will load a truck with non-perishables for delivery to TASK and assemble 275 pie boxes. On Nov. 19 and 20, students and helpers from throughout the school will work together to bake pies.

On the evening of Nov. 20, Toll Gate parents and helpers will don aprons and wield knives for the annual carve-a-thon in the school’s cafeteria. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, third grade students will personally travel to TASK to decorate for the holiday celebration, and help with the delivery of turkeys and pies.

The “task” of preparing more than 700 Thanksgiving dinners has been a joint effort between Toll Gate Grammar and the greater community for the past 30 years. Toll Gate students collect canned and boxed food, make 250 of their signature sweet potato pies, while turkeys are donated by local businesses and families, roasted and carved by volunteers.

Local nursery schools make cranberry relish, Cub Scouts decorate lunch bags, Girls Scouts make cornbread, Timberlane Middle School packs lunches and the community at-large generously donates time and money to a task that resonates with what this time of year is all about — “Giving, Caring, Sharing.” By participating in this project, the children learn that there is always an opportunity to share and lend a helping hand.

To find out how you can help, contact Missy Cappucci at mcappucci5@yahoo.com or Dawn Berman at dawn@thepenningtonstudio.com. The TASK team at Toll Gate is grateful for the generosity of the local community in making this event a success year after year.

For more information on this project, to donate, volunteer, or read the essays and see photos of this project, visit the Toll Gate TASK website at tollgategrammarpto.shutterfly.com/task25.