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Bowlers help raise funds for Turkeys R Us
Juan Pelayo of the Give Every Child a Chance bowling team, right, watches the action. Bowlers on Thursday - as well as next Thursday who play at Manteca Bowl from 5 to 11 p.m. - will help Turkeys R Us as a dollar from each game bowled goes to help provide turkeys for struggling families. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Bob Raymus knew that he wanted to do something to help the Second Harvest Food Bank.

After catching word that the local non-profit was in need of 2,800 turkeys to provide Thanksgiving turkeys for struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop, the local home builder racked his brain for something that could generate much needed funding and raise awareness at the same time.

Then it clicked – bowling for birds.

On Thursday, Raymus – in conjunction with his mother Marie who owns Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center – agreed to donate $1 from every game and $1 from every pair of shoes rented to help those in need during the holidays. The snack bar will also be donating 20 percent of their revenue.

It was because Second Harvest supplies all 30 non-profit food pantries in the three communities that Raymus felt the need to step in and help out.

“They’re the place that all of the other non-profits go to get their food, and you have to think that those groups reach out and help a lot more people,” he said. “It all starts there. And when I read that they were short this year, I talked with my mother Marie and she thought this would be a good idea.”

Those that missed Thursday’s session will get another chance on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 5 to 11 p.m.

As of Wednesday, Turkeys R Us had collected 490 turkeys plus $10,230 donations. Altogether that will allow Turkeys R Us to provide the main course for 1,172 of the 2,800 struggling families. They have eight days to come up with the remaining 1,638 turkeys so they can be distributed to the food closets in time for Thanksgiving.

Groups from the Manteca Boys and Girls Club and Give Every Child a Chance were out on the lanes Thursday to help raise funds, and staffers from the food bank were on hand to answer any questions the public may have had about their fundraising effort.

For 10-year-old Joseph Santos – a New Haven student who was there representing the Boys and Girls Club – it was a chance to reflect on how grateful he is for what he has in his life and what he can do to help others.

“I love Thanksgiving because we get to celebrate all of the things that we’re thankful for,” Santos said. “There are other people that aren’t as lucky. Some people have a feast and other people don’t really have anything. Maybe this raises money to change that.”

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, Second Harvest CEO Mike Mallory is thankful for every single last dollar donated to the organization or groups like ‘Turkeys R Us’ which help outfit the needy in the area.

Only a portion of what the organization actually gives away is donated, Mallory said. The rest he has to go out and buy and how many families he’s able to feed for a single Thanksgiving is determined primarily on the price that he gets for the thousands of turkeys he has to purchase.

And in Mallory’s eyes, Manteca rises to the occasion not by relying on big, single check donors but by the gifts of individuals who donate throughout the year and give some extra during the holidays.

“There are people that really want to give back, and this is how they do it,” Mallory said. “This is something that we face every year. We’re also trying to use this effort as a tool to let people know that hunger never takes a holiday and is there year-round, but right now the focus is on the turkey drive.

“This is all about helping the less fortunate and making sure that they can enjoy a dinner like everyone else. Not everyone is afforded that opportunity.”

For more information about the Second Harvest Food Bank, or to learn how to make a donation, call (209) 239-2091 or visit them on the web at