Child steps up to make sure other children have a Thanksgiving meal

Jamison Aratari reached inside her mom’s van and proudly grabbed one of the 93 turkeys packed inside the vehicle. The 8-year-old girl didn’t let the weight of the 15-pound turkey deter her from grabbing more and loading them onto a cart.

It was a busy morning for the third grader, who by 9 a.m. had already been to two grocery stores and homes of family and friends to pick up the turkeys she arranged to be donated for Oakland Family Services’ clients.

The Highland Township girl decided to organize a turkey drive when she learned that some children wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner.

“It made me feel sad,” she said.  “I wanted to help people who can’t afford it.”

Jamison began her quest by giving her principal a flyer to email to all of the families at Lakewood Elementary School in the Huron Valley School District. She also distributed the flyers to families and friends and received five turkeys from the West Bloomfield Fire Department and more than $500 from employees at Lear, where her mom works, to purchase turkeys.

“I’m just beyond proud of her having such big heart and caring more about other people and making sure they are getting a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Erica Aratari, Jamison's mother. “She knows she will have hers, and she is very concerned about other kids and making sure they get their Thanksgiving dinner as well.”

Valerie Mercadante, development and engagement coordinator at Oakland Family Services, said Jamison's commitment to championing this project from start to finish is a true inspiration to children and adults alike.

“Her passion for the children and families we serve is clear, and it's because of her passion that 100 families in our community are going to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together,” she said. “Jamison is proof that you are never too young to create change, and that is exactly what she has done for the clients at Oakland Family Services.”