Hesperia Christian School's youngest students are helping making Thanksgiving a little better for some of the Victor Valley's neediest families this year.


The school's preschool class wrapped up a canned goods drive on Thursday, with foods collected donated to the Victor Valley Rescue Mission.


"The goal was 200 cans and they would get a pizza party," said HCS preschool director Nancy Maerzluft. "The kids are going to get a pizza party two weeks from Friday."


The kids got additional help -- in the form of 25 donated turkeys -- from the High Desert chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.


"This year, one of the kids in our class," Maerzluft said, "Is associated with the National Wild Turkey Federation."


In fact, the four-year-old is a card-carrying member. Her parents knew about the federation's national turkey donation program, and the school got in touch with the mission, and the rest was history -- or at least dinner.


"There's an increase in need" due to the economy, said Veronica Trujillo, the mission's events and volunteer coordinator. Things have gotten so bad that "most days, we can't even open."


The recession has also created new clients for the mission whom they'd previously seen in another role.


"These are working families that lost one or two jobs," said Trujillo. "They go from donating to being in need."


While holiday donations are appreciated, spreading the holiday spirit all year long would be even better, said mission staff.


"We get the most food at the holidays," said volunteer Rodney Moore. "But we need it all year long."


The food donations made around Thanksgiving will be done before most Victor Valley residents have begun putting up their holiday decorations this year.


The HCS preschoolers aren't done with their donations, though: The class will be setting up a barrel outside the classroom for year-round donations to the mission.


For more information about donating to the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, or to find out meal hours and locations, call 760-955-5958. Hesperians can drop off donations at the mission's thrift store at 17376 B Main Street. The thrift store can be reached at 760-947-1747.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.