Through MillionTreesNYC, Parks Natural Resources Group Forestry Crew Member Jose Baez led 8th grade students from his Alma mater, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School, in a forest restoration project in Inwood Hill Park. The student volunteers learned how to identify and remove invasive species which out compete and replace native vegetation, resulting in the loss of native plant species which provide habitat for wildlife.


Thanksgiving began in 1621 as a three-day festival between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans. It celebrated the bountiful harvest that the colonists had. Although it was celebrated annually, it was not celebrated nationally. In 1817, New York was the first state to celebrate Thanksgiving annually, but there was no set date in which people celebrated. Moved by the experiences of the pilgrims, Sarah Josepha Hale, an author (mostly recognized for writing the rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), began a thirty-year campaign asking politicians to observe Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In 1863, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln accepted her request and sent out a proclamation, which scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. This lasted until 1939, when the Great Depression hit, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November.

With such a rich history, Thanksgiving should not just be a day to eat turkey and stuffing, but as a celebration. As part of the Thanksgiving celebration at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School, the students begin preparations in the beginning of November. Students start November with a canned food drive. Each student brings in canned food, and before Thanksgiving break the amount of cans are tallied up per class. Then the class with the most cans has a pizza party.

The cans are brought down to the church as well as turkeys, which were bought with money that the 8th graders fundraised. During our Thanksgiving Mass, the cans and turkeys are blessed on the altar and are then donated to Saint Patrick’s Home Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in the Bronx. This year, the 7th and 8th graders, along with their teachers travelled to the home in the snow to drop off the canned goods and turkeys. The elderly and staff were moved by the student’s generosity and perseverance during a heavy snowfall on their way to the home.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt