Harrison District 2 families received a special gift from employees from Altia, a Colorado Springs-based software company.

Altia presented 120 Thanksgiving meal baskets on Nov. 18 as part of the Harrison School District Foundation’s Thanksgiving drive. Each basket includes a pan to cook turkey, potatoes, stuffing, chicken broth, gravy, two cans of vegetables, jello, a can of fruit, cranberry sauce, bread mix, cake/brownie/cookie mix and a gift card for a turkey.

The food drive comes after the company worked with D2 to provide laptops and hotspots to students during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’ve had a relationship with District 2 this year,” said Mike Juran, the CEO of Altia. “We worked with them to help get laptops for students who are learning from home, and we also worked to get internet access for them. We had already developed a relationship, and then when Randy [Rocha, executive director of the Harrison School District Foundation] said, ‘Ok, we’re going to do this program for kids and families,’ he contacted us and said, ‘Hey would you guys be interested in putting together some Thanksgiving baskets?’ and we said, ‘Sure!’”

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Mike Juran, CEO of Altia, unloads donated Thanksgiving baskets for Harrison School District 2 families.

The meals will help families in D2 during Thanksgiving, at a time when local food banks are dealing with increased demand due to economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Poverty is a challenge for many D2 students, as 63.5% of D2 students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, according to 2019 budget data. “Altia is fantastic,” said Christine O’Brien, the D2 public information officer. “They always step up and help us, as did the nonprofit COS I Love and a host of others who have been very generous with our families.”

Additional donors included “A good host of local churches, some civic clubs, even as diverse as some motorcycle clubs, a law firm. We’ve got a diverse group of folks who are helping us out,” according to O’Brien. The donations from Altia and others will help 450 D2 families this year.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.