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THE NEED: 3,800 TURKEYS

1,900 Manteca, Ripon & Lathrop families struggling

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POSTED October 23, 2012 12:49 a.m.

The most loyal contributors to the Turkeys R US campaign - a 15-year-old effort to make sure no family in Manteca, Ripon and Lathrop goes without the traditional holiday turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas - are those who know tough times.

Perhaps a dozen seniors that lived through the Great Depression and are now on fixed incomes that consist primarily of Social Security checks will set aside an average of $10 a month for 10 months so they can make sure none of their neighbors - almost all who’ve they have never met - don’t go without this Thanksgiving.

“For years, we have had seniors who save up to donate because they know what it is like to go without at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said LeAnn McNabb, who helps coordinate the turkey drive. “They don’t want people to go through what they once did.”

This year - even with unemployment starting to improve - organizers expect the demand to be as strong as it was last year when 1,900 families in the three communities received turkeys along with holiday baskets for Thanksgiving and again at Christmas.

The list of recipients run the gamut from families who have been living paycheck to paycheck and are barely keeping afloat who don’t see food assistance except at the holidays, to struggling families headed by single moms, seniors on fixed income, families where the head of household has lost jobs or that have suffered serve cutbacks in hours or pay, and families dealing with a major financial crisis triggered by health issues.

And since Thanksgiving comes early this year, organizers have just a little over three weeks to make sure they have actual turkeys - or the funds to purchase them - so they can be distributed to just under 24 flood closets serving struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.

Second Harvest Food Bank works with the volunteers to secure a source of turkeys at roughly $10 a bird. Donations help cover that tab. Some donate actual turkeys by dropping them off at the food bank Industrial Park Drive specifically for the Turkeys R Us drive. The drop-off can be done Monday through Friday before 4:30 p.m.

Monetary donations can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker Crossroads at North and North Main Street in Manteca (call 823-8141) or Two Crazy Real Estate Girls at 322 E. Yosemite Ave, Suite B, in Manteca. You can also call LeAnn McNabb at 815-6754, Sue Teunissen at 483-3365, or the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.

Turkeys R Us started 15 years ago when Teunissen along with Gail Fletcher read in the Manteca Bulletin there was a shortage of turkeys at Thanksgiving. They got other people in the office and friends to donate 40 turkeys and delivered them to the food bank.

They thought they had covered the need only to be told they were still 1,000 turkeys short.

Since then, they have vowed not to let a holiday season go by without making sure everyone in the greater Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop community had a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.

For the past 13 years they have met that goal with the help of hundreds in the community.

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