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1,600 needed for holiday meals
Rotarian Stephen Schuler retrieves prepared turkey for serving.

Turkeys R Us needs 1,600 turkeys to help make sure 800 struggling families in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon have a traditional holiday meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And they’re relying on the generosity of the community to accomplish that goal.

The drive started 21 years ago augments staples the Second Harvest Food Bank provides to food closets  serving the three communities. Without the community donations, the food banks will only be able to provide items such as macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and similar food for holiday food baskets distributed by community non-profits.

The good news is the need is down. Food closets in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon are asking for helping in providing holiday meals for 100 less families this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The bad news is they need the first 1,000 turkeys within 20 days to make sure they can be distributed in time through food closets for Thanksgiving as well as to provide 200 for the free community Thanksgiving dinner.  Another 600 are needed for Christmas. As of Tuesday, Turkeys R Us had $100 in cash donations or enough to purchase six turkeys. The food bank is able to buy turkeys $15 apiece.

The annual free community Thanksgiving is staged by the Manteca Rotary and Sunrise Kiwanis is served at Mt. Mike’s Pizza on Nov. 22. Between those that dine at the restaurant and meals delivered to other gathering places in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop as well as shut-ins the two service clubs typically serve more than 1,700 people.

The community-based Turkeys R Us effort started 21 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.

Since then, 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 20 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. Monetary 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