Bev Housden 20 years ago vowed to do what she could to make sure every family in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop could share in the Thanksgiving bounty that many of us take for granted.
It is why she helped launch Turkeys R Us some 20 years ago. Staff at what is now Crossroads Real Estate read in the Bulletin how food closets were short on turkeys. They decided to gather up as many as they could and ended up taking nearly three dozen frozen turkeys to the food bank. When they asked if that would cover the need, they were stunned to find out food closets in the area were still hundreds of turkeys short. They decided at that moment no one should go without on the day that is traditionally about families, food, and counting blessings that none of their neighbors in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop should go without.
For the next 19 years the community has stepped up and met the need. This year, however, with a week to go, the effort is struggling and may miss the mark for the first time despite the need being 200 less turkeys than last year.
As of Monday — with a week to go before turkeys need to be delivered to food closets for distribution to families in time for Thanksgiving — the effort is 1,194 short of the 1,700 turkeys needed.
On Monday, the community donated $900 as well as 16 frozen turkeys to the Turkeys R Us drive.
That brings the total donated so far to $6,900. The money will buy 460 turkeys at $15 apiece. Added to the 46 frozen turkeys that have been donated so far, the effort has now collected 506 turkeys.
The 1,700 turkey goal includes 200 turkeys needed for the Manteca Rotary Club’s free community Thanksgiving meal at Mt. Mike’s Pizza at Louise Avenue and North Main Street that typically serves more than 1,400 meals. Besides serving meals on site, others are delivered to shut-ins in the three communities as well as free gatherings in Ripon and Lathrop as well.
To help Turkeys R Us the Manteca Firefighters Local 1874 will collect turkey donations on Sunday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. outside the Safeway store on South Main Street. Two Little Leagues — Northgate and Spreckels Park — are also conducting turkey drives on Nov. 19.
Second Harvest Food Bank spokesperson Jessica Vaughn said the majority asking for help this Thanksgiving are the working poor, retired people on fixed income who are seeing health care costs and other expenses eat up their pensions, and people caught in unexpected emergencies such as losing their home in a fire or major medical costs not covered by insurance.
The request for help from such households that often don’t ask food closets for help goes up during the holidays due to increased heating costs and other expenses plus the fact jobs that involve seasonal work tied into construction and agriculture slow down just as Thanksgiving hits.
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 www.localfoodbank.org or dropped off or mailed to Second Harvest; Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate, 250 Cherry Lane, Suite 105, Manteca, or Beacon Realty 211 E. Center St., Manteca.
If you have questions contact the food bank at 239.2091, McNabb at 815.6754, or Housden at 823-8141.
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