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Thanksgiving covered; effort short 251 turkeys for Christmas

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Manteca Fire Captain Travis Gooch, right, accepts a turkey donation Saturday outside of Safeway.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED November 25, 2013 11:52 p.m.

Folks in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop counted their blessings and then shared them with the less fortunate.

The Turkeys R Us effort has met the need for Thanksgiving in the three communities and is now working on making sure the same 1,700 families have a Christmas meal as well. As of Monday, Turkeys R Us was just 251 short of their Christmas goal.

The effort also generated 125 turkeys for the Fourth Annual Thanksgiving in Manteca Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mountain Mike’s Pizza at 1120 North Main Street.  Dinners are also being sent to Ripon and Lathrop as part of an effort to make sure people living alone as well as the homeless can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The joint effort of the Sunrise Kiwanis and Manteca Noon Rotary service clubs also will provide meals to go. Meals can be preordered for large or small groups for pick-up by emailing

It means the community from businesses to families to individuals including kids has for the 15th time in 16 years made sure the 30 food banks serving Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop had turkeys.

Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Mallory, who works with the Turkeys R Us effort, said typically those in need would have been provided with food but it would have been on the order of macaroni and cheese, cold cereal and such to make sure they had a meal on Thanksgiving.

Mallory said it is extremely rare cities the size of Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop collect enough turkeys to make sure no one in the community goes without on Thanksgiving.

Sue Teunissen and Gail Fletcher launched Turkeys R Us 16 years ago after reading in the Manteca Bulletin that families in Manteca would go without a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Both thought that was wrong given they’d be celebrating with bountiful food with their families and friends on the day of thanks. So they asked around the office and asked friends for donations allowing them to buy 40 turkeys.

They took them to the food bank thinking they’d met the need only to be told it was a great help but local food closets were still 1,000 turkeys short. They were shocked to find out that there were that many struggling families in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon. After that year, they decided no one should go without if they can help it.

If you can assist Turkeys R Us, contact Coldwell Banker Crossroads (North and North Main Street in Manteca) at 823-8141. You can also call Lee McNabb at 815-6754, Teunissen at 483-3365, or the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.

If you have an actual turkey you’d like to donate, you can take it directly to the Second Harvest Food bank on Industrial Park Drive near the branch post office and indicate it is for Turkeys R Us. The drop-off can be done Monday through Friday before 4:30 p.m.

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