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Bleak outlook for needy in Manteca on Thanksgiving
Donors dropped off turkeys, food and cash during last years Turkeys R Us effort at Food 4 Less. - photo by HIME ROMERO

A turkey and food drive is being conducted Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Manteca Food-4-Less store on Spreckels Avenue to help the Second Harvest/Turkeys R Us effort.

Food banks depending on the Turkeys R Us drive in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop won’t be able to assist all needy families asking for help with the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Donations of funds and turkeys alike are lagging significantly for the first time in 16 years raising the prospect that at least 922 families will go without. That doesn’t count additional requests made to the Second Harvest Food Bank — the supplier of goods to nearly three dozen food banks in the three communities. A Second Harvest spokesperson said they will definitely not be able to meet several hundred late requests from food banks beyond the original 1,700 turkeys requested and likely will not be able to meet the original request.

Organizers are hoping a combination turkey and food drive this Saturday, Nov. 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Manteca Food-4-Less on Spreckels Avenue will allow them to meet the needs of at least some of the 922 families.

Turkeys R Us need to secure turkeys by next Friday for distribution to the food banks in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop. That’s why turkey donations at this point would be more effective although they are more than grateful for whatever people can give.

Turkeys R Us as of Thursday has collected $9,332. That’s enough to purchase 777 turkeys for the Thanksgiving demand. They need another 1,700 for Christmas.

Assuming turkeys go for a little more than $1.10 a pound if they can secure that good of a deal, they will need at least $37,000 to meet this year’s demand plus provide fixings for holiday dinners.

Turkeys R us was born when two real estate agents — Gail Fletcher and Sue Teunissen – who read in the Manteca Bulletin 16 years ago that families would go without Thanksgiving meals that year.

They took up a collection at their office — Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate — and were able to buy 11 turkeys to take to the food bank.

They recalled how they thought they were making a big dent and asked how meeting the need at Thanksgiving was going. When they were told there would be about 1,000 families going without, it hit them like a ton of bricks.

Teunnisen recalls how it didn’t seem right that while her family would be sitting down to the traditional meal and counting their blessing that neighbors in the community would go without and more than likely end up having hot dogs and macaroni and cheese making it just another day.

The holidays pose a special burden for local food closets as people who never ask for help putting food on the table the rest of the year step forward — even though most do so reluctantly — due to their inability to provide their families with traditional holiday meals.

The Turkeys R Us effort has made it possible for other people who seek once-a-year assistance to have a traditional holiday meal for their families including single working moms, dual income households that have lower paying jobs, and senior citizens. The mix usually includes families juggling major medical costs and those trying to secure work.

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.

Second Harvest will accept frozen turkeys or hams from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the 704 E. Industrial Park Drive location in Manteca.