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Turkeys R Us 1,780 turkeys short with two weeks left
Mike Mallory and Turkeys R Us are 1,780 turkeys short. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Turkeys R Us has fallen significantly behind in its efforts to make sure 1,850 struggling households in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon have a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

With two weeks left before turkeys need to be delivered to 14 food closets serving the three communities to make sure turkeys are distributed in time for Thanksgiving, the Turkeys are Us drive has one turkey and funds to buy 69 more leaving a shortfall of 1,780 turkeys. Normally with two weeks to go, the community-based turkey drive has enough birds and cash donations for 900 turkeys.

Second Harvest Food Bank has promised food closets if they don’t have turkeys and traditional fixings such as bread, vegetables, and stuffing for struggling families they will make sure food will be supplied for a meal. That would more than likely be items such as macaroni and cheese and such.

Turkeys R us was born 19 years ago when two real estate agents — Gail Fletcher and Sue Teunissen – read in the Manteca Bulletin that families would go without Thanksgiving meals that year.

They took up a collection at their office —Crossroads Real Estate — and were able to buy 11 turkeys to take to the food bank.

They recalled how they thought they were making a big dent and asked how meeting the need at Thanksgiving was going. When they were told there would be about 1,000 families going without, it hit them like a ton of bricks.

Teunnisen said at the time it didn’t seem right that while her family would be sitting down to the traditional meal and counting their blessing that neighbors in the community would go without and more than likely end up having hot dogs and macaroni and cheese making it just another day.

From that point out, the two women vowed to make sure that their neighborhoods that live in arguably the most bountiful valley ever known to mankind would not go without against at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

That led to 17 consecutive years where the Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon communities came through to make sure no struggling families went without through the efforts of the Turkeys R Us drive.

The holidays pose a special burden for local food closets as people who never ask for help putting food on the table the rest of the year step forward — even though most do so reluctantly — due to their inability to provide their families with traditional holiday meals.

The Turkeys R Us effort has made it possible for other once-a-year people who seek assistance to have a traditional holiday meal for their families including single working moms, dual income households that have lower paying jobs, those that rely on seasonal work such as farm jobs, and senior citizens.

The mix usually includes families juggling major medical costs. This year, particularly hard hit, are renters caught in a hot real estate market that has sent rents skyrocketing.

 Donations of either turkeys or money can be dropped off to the Second Harvest Food Bank that is helping coordinate the effort. The food bank is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 704 Industrial Park Drive in Manteca, phone (209) 239.2091.

Check donations are also being accepted at Crossroads Real Estate at 250 Cherry Lane in Manteca, (209) 823-8141 or LeAnne McNabb with Beacon Real Estate, 211 E. Center St., Suite 5, (209), 815.6754.

Three events are also planned the week before Thanksgiving where people can drop off turkeys and non-perishable food goods to help plug an expected shortfall. They are:

uThe Manteca Transit Stuff the Bus on Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 19-20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Food-4-Less on Spreckels Avenue.

uThe Manteca Firefighters Association on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Safeway store on South Main Street.

uNorthgate Little League on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the league’s snack bar on Hoyt Lane behind Neil Hafley School.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email