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Turkeys R Us short $4,500 in bid to make sure no one goes without in Manteca
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Donations flowed into Turkeys R us during the past four days.

Unfortunately so did a surge in requests from the 31 food closets serving Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop.

“We’re absolutely stunned,” said Turkeys R Us veteran Sue Teunissen on Monday. “Many of the food closets have double the need they did last year.”

That has left Turkeys R Us organizers scrambling to try and raise $4,500 in the next four days to meet the demand for Thanksgiving so no struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, or Lathrop will go without for the traditional meal of thanks. They need to order turkeys by no later than Friday to make sure they can be delivered to food closets and distributed to needy families in time for Thanksgiving.

The effort was helped this past weekend when those making donations to Manteca Transit’s Stuff the Bus effort outside Food-4-Less and the Manteca Firefighters drive outside Safeway collected 132 frozen turkeys.

That is in addition to more than $2,500 in cash donated since Thursday. Organizers have negotiated a 58 cent per pound price for turkeys. It is a better price than want they could get last week.

That means they still need enough money - or turkeys - to meet the needs of just over 550 households by Friday.

Food closet coordinators have said the real problem isn’t the high unemployment rate of 14.5 percent. It was close to that last year. The biggest need this year are coming from households that have had hours trimmed back. Most have never asked for help before and a number of them have given to food closets and Turkeys R Us in the past but now find themsleves in tight economic situations.

Teunissen noted while a small segment of people seeking help with Thanksgiving are on welfare, most are single mom households, households where one or two parents have been laid off or else had hours reduced the elderly on severely restricted incomes, and those who have become gravely ill.

She said that the families typically will just have macaroni and cheese and other staples they can afford or get from regular food bank distributions for their holiday meals. The Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners have in the past fed the families for several days freeing up money to pay for PG&E bills and other essential expenses they can’t ignore.

Teunissen and Gail Fletcher launched Turkeys R Us 13 years ago after reading in the Manteca Bulletin that families in Manteca would go without a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Both thought that was wrong given they’d be celebrating with bountiful food with their families and friends on the day of thanks. So they asked around the office and asked friends for donations allowing them to buy 40 turkeys.

They took them to the food bank thinking they’d met the need only to be told it was a great help but local food closets were still 1,000 turkeys short. They were shocked to find out that there were that many struggling families in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon. After that year, they decided no one should go without if they can help it.

If you can assist Turkeys R Us, contact Coldwell Banker Crossroads at 823-8141.

You can also use a special phone number that connects people to the Second Harvest Food bank website. On there it will connect them to the Turkeys-R-Us page and allow them to donate through a PayPal account.

You simply text “turkey” to 209-213-1033 to access the page.

A donation of $10 will provide a turkey for a family while $50 will provide an entire holiday meal for a family of four.

If you have an actual turkey you’d like to donate, you can take it directly to the Second Harvest Food bank on Industrial Park Drive near the branch post office and indicate it is for Turkeys R Us. The drop-off can be done Monday through Friday before 4:30 p.m.