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Manteca delivers enough turkeys for 2,090 families
Manteca Transit dispatcher Veronica Gonzales accepts a turkey donation during Saturdays Stuff the Buss effort in front of the Manteca Food-4-Less. - photo by HIME ROMERO

A last-minute surge of turkey donations over the weekend means 2,090 struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop will have a holiday meal.

“People in Manteca are amazing,” said Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Mallory who is helping with the Turkeys R Us effort.

The two food collection efforts this past weekend outside of Food-4-Less and Safeway conducted by Manteca Transit and Manteca Fire Department respectively netted 274 turkeys. The rest was made up in donations of cash and turkeys from individuals, groups, and businesses. The 274 turkeys from the two food collection points were about double what the donation was last year.

The food bank was able to make the final turkey delivers Monday to the 24 food banks in the three communities that have a clientele that swells at Thanksgiving due to families described as “the working poor” not being able to afford a traditional holiday meal. Typically, they do not ask for help any other time of the year except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. A traditional meal is considered extravagant for them as well as being out of reach for many on fixed incomes, dealing with major medical bills or unemployment or other financial concerns.

Turkeys R Us organizers were worried that a string of 13 consecutive years of making sure nobody would go without at Thanksgiving would be broken this year. Part of the problem was that Thanksgiving fell early this year. At the same time the two primary Turkeys R Us organizers were hit were personal emergencies - one had a spouse pass away and the other became ill.

Mallory said 14 straight years of a community the size of the South County meeting the holiday meal needs of its struggling families is “unheard of” among food bank organizations.

Usually the Turkeys R Us effort has several hundred turkeys left after meeting the Thanksgiving need to start building toward the Christmas need which tends to be a lesser number of families.

Since Turkeys R Us barely made the need for Thanksgiving this year, Malory said the effort will shift primarily to hams that tend to be less expensive.

Actual turkeys or hams can be dropped off at the food bank Industrial Park Drive specifically for the Turkeys R Us drive. The drop-off can be done Monday through Friday before 4:30 p.m.

Monetary donations can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker Crossroads at North and North Main Street in Manteca or the food bank. You can also call the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.