Giving ‘the bird’
It’s that time of year again: for Summit County residents to "give hunger the bird" for all Utahns.
The Park City Board of Realtors will host it’s 13th annual Turkey Drive at The Market at Park City, 1500 Snow Creek Dr., on Thursday, Nov. 20, and Friday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Volunteers with the Board of Realtors will be accepting turkeys or monetary donations during those times, committee chairwoman Deb Hartley said.
Organizers are hoping to collect 2,000 turkeys this year, in an effort to top last year’s total of 1,855. If that goal is met, Hartley estimates the Turkey Drive will feed about 12,500 people.
Since its inception, Hartley said more than 18,000 turkeys have been collected, feeding about 125,000 people statewide. When the Turkey Drive was started 14 years ago, it managed to gather about 75 turkeys.
"Hunger is a big need, even in our own community," she said. "There is lots of giving at Christmas, but this starts off the season. It’s a community effort to ‘give hunger the bird,’ as we call it."
Most of the turkeys gathered in Park City are donated to the local food pantry at the Christian Center of Park City.
The Christian Center requested 700 turkeys this year, with plans to distribute 400 to Summit County families and the other 300 to Wasatch County residents.
Rob Harter, executive director with the Christian Center, said whenever anyone receives a turkey from the drive "they are thrilled."
"Every year it’s the same reaction," Harter said. "Some people even start to ask at the end of the summer if we are going to do it again for the following year."
The remaining turkeys go directly to the Utah Food Bank to be distributed among the 134 food pantries across the state.
"People love to get them and we love to be able to distribute them," Ginette Bott, chief development officer at the Utah Food Bank, said. "Folks like Deb really do help all of these pantries and this is huge to the people in Utah who are hungry."
Bott said more than 82,000 pounds of turkey meat have been donated to the Utah Food Bank through the drive.
"The thing that is really incredible is they combine the three things we ask for: food, time, and money," Bott said. "I just want to send a special, heartfelt thank you to all of those who have participated in making the holidays great for others."
In addition to the Board of Realtors’ efforts, the drive’s continued success is made possible, in part, by The Market, which supplies the turkeys.
Owner and Store Director Mike Holmes said The Market has participated in the Thanksgiving fundraiser for the past nine years.
"What we do is we sell those turkeys to people in the community at either our cost or below. Then we end up donating that money to the food bank," Holmes said.
The Market’s participation costs around $35,000 annually, Holmes said.
"We just feel it is a good way to give back to the community that we are in and help some of those who are less fortunate," he said. "That’s kind of why we do it. It makes us feel good, I guess."
Rob Lea, the event’s co-chair, said the Turkey Drive represents Parkites’ attempt to ensure there are "no families left behind" during the holidays.
"This is just a really easy way to give back to the community because we live in such a beautiful place and have so many opportunities," Lea said. "And really, anything, from $1 to $100, helps. Any amount anyone can give, we would gladly accept."
For more information about the drive, go to ParkCityTurkeyDrive.Info or visit The Market at Park City, 1500 Snow Creek Dr., on Thursday, Nov. 20, and Friday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.