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Turkeys R Us covering Thanksgiving for struggling Manteca, Ripon & Lathrop families
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The Manteca Firefighters Association and their supporters collected turkeys, food and cash donations outside of Safeway on Saturday and Sunday. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Manteca — as well as Ripon and Lathrop — have made sure for the 21st year that all of their neighbors whether they are alone, a struggling family, on fixed incomes, or homeless will share in the bounty of the valley on Thanksgiving.

Nine turkey drives on Saturday, and Sunday netted 892 frozen birds plus donations of cash and other food for the traditional meal to make sure that all needs of those that have asked food closets in the three communities for help are met as well as providing more than 200 turkeys needed to serve 2,300 free meals at Thursday’s community Thanksgiving meal conducted at Mt. Mike’s Pizza.

The free dinner is being staged by the Manteca Rotary and Sunrise Kiwanis on Thursday, Nov. 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mt. Mike’s Pizza, North Main Street at Louise, in Manteca.

 Call the “Turkey Hot Line” at (209) 825-4331 to arrange for a pick up or delivered meal if you are unable to dine at the restaurant.  The email contact is

The organizers have already made arrangements with groups in Ripon and Lathrop to provide community gathering sites for diners in both cities.

The Turkeys R Us effort also had made significant inroads on the Christmas needs of families served by community food closets. Jessica Vaughan, who is coordinating this year’s Turkeys R Us Drive said that they will know where they stand if there is any shortfall for Christmas later today.

Besides providing a turkey for families the cash raised at various drives helps Turkeys R Us secure whatever traditional fixings that Second Harvest Food Bank may not have on hand to complete the holiday food baskets.

The need was down slightly this year. Food closets will see a bigger demand during the holidays as many families that barely get by most of the year sometimes find the challenges of the holidays that also bring with it increased energy bills making it financially impossible for them to keep on top of bills if they add a traditional family Thanksgiving meal to the mix.

Among the weekend effort was 245 turkeys collected during the Crossfit Excel Turkey Throwdown, Grocery Outlet along with KHOP that collected 103 turkeys, Core 209 that collected 44 turkeys as the price for a community workout, and Manteca Transit’s Stuff the Bus effort that collected 270 turkeys and 2,700 pounds of food at Food-4-Less. Other turkeys were collected by Spreckels Little League, Northgate Little League, and the Manteca Firefighters Association.

Turkeys R Us started 22 years ago when real estate agents Sue 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.

They 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 20 years Turkeys R Us have met that goal with the help of hundreds in the community. And once they determine the shortfall for Christmas and ask people to help cover that it will make 21 years in a row that both holidays have been covered.

Frozen turkeys can be dropped off at Second Harvest Food Bank at 1220 Vanderbilt Circle in Manteca Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monetary donations can be made online at or dropped off or at Second Harvest. 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail