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For struggling families during holidays
turkey 29

In a way, it’s ironic that the holidays are Jessica Vaughn’s favorite time of year.

She gets that it is about family, friends, counting one’s blessings, and the bounty we enjoy.

Vaughn also handles community outreach for the Second Harvest Food Bank that helps those struggling to put food on their tables throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley and in her hometown community of Manteca and the neighboring cities of Ripon and Lathrop.

The need for food is greater during the holiday seasons. It is inflated by those that have managed to keep their noses above water but the added costs of the holidays that come just as cold weather hits meaning PG&E bills skyrocket taking its toll on those that had been getting by while eschewing food closet help believing correctly there are those in greater need.

It is the six or so weeks involved in the Turkeys R Us effort that makes Vaughn realize that the meaning of the season and the strong sense of community that runs deep in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.

And the point is driven home poignantly by those that can spare the least that open up hearts and wallets so others won’t go without traditional meals this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“This time of year we get a lot of people that were helped before at Thanksgiving and Christmas that come by and give money so others won’t go without,” Vaughn said. “They understand the importance to people having traditional meals and family gatherings this time of year.”

Vaughn and others have launched the 22nd edition of the Turkeys R Us. The goal is to make sure that no one in the community goes without a traditional meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That will require raising funds to buy 1,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving and another 1,000 birds for Christmas. They are also supplying the Manteca Rotary and Sunrise Kiwanis community Thanksgiving dinner conducted at Mt. Mike’s Pizza with 200 turkeys to prepare meals for more than 2,000 people in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon

In order to make sure turkeys are available to food closets for distribution to families on the Monday before Thanksgiving they need to have donations of turkeys or money by Nov. 25

To date, the Turkeys Us Drive has enough funds — plus one frozen turkey donated — to supply 67 turkeys. That means the Turkeys R Us has 29 days to collect actual frozen turkeys or find to buy turkeys to help provide 933 families with traditional meals on Thanksgiving.

The community-based Turkeys R Us effort started 22 years ago when Realtors Sue Teunissen and Gail Fletcher read in the Manteca Bulletin the food bank was coming up short in its efforts to supply turkeys to local food closets as the main item in holiday food baskets for struggling families. They got other people in the Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate 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.

Community members led by real estate agents as well as loan officers and title agents 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.

Since then the community has delivered as Manteca has had 21 consecutive years of making sure all struggling families have a traditional holiday meal.

Frozen turkeys can be dropped off at Second Harvest Food Bank at 704 E. Industrial Park Drive in Manteca Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Money donations can be made online at or dropped off or at Second Harvest.

If you have questions contact the food bank at 239.2091.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email