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Realtors make sure 378 needy families have Thanksgiving turkey
Deborah Romero, left, of the Manteca Council of the Central Valley Association of Realtors presents Mike Mallory a check for $3,778 for the Turkeys R Us campaign to help provide traditional holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas for struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Manteca Council of the Central Valley Association of Realtors stepped up to make a $3,778 donation to Turkeys R Us.

The donation has jump started the drive that has less than three weeks to go to make sure 1,900 struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop have a traditional Thanksgiving turkey. That means the community effort now has enough cash on hand to purchase 392 turkeys leaving then 1,508 short of their Thanksgiving goal plus another 1,900 turkeys to go for Christmas.

Turkeys R Us organizer Sue Tennissensaid the effort is under more pressure this year since Thanksgiving falls early.

This year is a big challenge for a number of reasons.

• Ethanol subsidizes have helped drive corn prices - the key ingredient for both turkey feed and the creating of ethanol - up to a price point that it is costing three times more per bird for farmers to feed. That in turn is expected to send the price of turkeys skyrocketing although supermarkets are expected to still run loss leader specials to snag the lucrative holiday food shopping customers.

• While unemployment is down 1.2 percent to drop to 12.8 percent since last Thanksgiving many people are underemployed.

• Food donations are already running tight that are needed to supply the 10 food closets in Manteca alone.

• The need goes up at Thanksgiving because many households that have been able to skirt by can’t when hit with the double whammy of an expensive holiday meal and pressing needs such as heating when the temperatures start to dip.

• Many now struggling used to be among those who gave turkeys or cash in past years. Often times people who themselves are on limited means, or who are having a struggle and are barely making it will donate money because they understand what it is like to not be able to serve your family a Thanksgiving meal like everyone else.

And since Thanksgiving comes early this year, organizers have less than three weeks to make sure they have actual turkeys - or the funds to purchase them - so they can be distributed to just under 24 flood closets serving struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.

Second Harvest Food Bank works with the volunteers to secure a source of turkeys at roughly $10 a bird. Donations help cover that tab. Some donate actual turkeys by dropping them 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 (call 823-8141) or Two Crazy Real Estate Girls at 322 E. Yosemite Ave, Suite B, in Manteca. You can also call LeAnn McNabb at 815-6754, Sue Teunissen at 483-3365, or the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.

Turkeys R Us started 15 years ago when 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.

Since then, they have 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 13 years they have met that goal with the help of hundreds in the community.