Seventeen years ago Sue Teunissen and Gail Fletcher couldn’t stand the thought of their families sitting down to a table overflowing with traditional holiday food on Thanksgiving knowing neighbors and others in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop were going without.
They had read in the Manteca Bulletin about struggling families that would have a bleak Thanksgiving, grateful to have macaroni and cheese on the table.
So they asked others in their office to help them donate turkeys. They came up with 40. When they delivered them to the food bank they asked whether that met the need. Food bank staff, delighted that they got such a huge donation, had bad news. The demand was much greater.
For the next 15 years Turkeys R Us has made sure that not only did every struggling family in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop have a traditional meal for Thanksgiving but for Christmas as well.
Now the Turkeys R Us Drive is within 238 turkeys of making it 16 years in a row.
The Turkeys R Us effort received 94 frozen birds and $525 on Monday.
Turkeys R Us will provide 950 struggling families in the three communities accessing 12 food banks the main course for both Thanksgiving and Christmas if they meet their goal of 1,900 turkeys.
The Turkeys R Us drive has collected enough so far to distribute 1,617 turkeys.
The list of recipients run the gamut from families who have been living paycheck to paycheck and are barely keeping afloat who don’t see food assistance except at the holidays, to struggling families headed by single moms, seniors on fixed income, families where the head of household have lost jobs or that have suffered serve cutbacks in hours or pay, and families dealing with a major financial crisis triggered by health issues.
Frozen turkeys can be taken to Second Harvest 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 319 N. Main St. Manteca, or Beacon Realty 211 E. Center St. Manteca.