By Michael Bielawski
The Barre Kiwanis 7th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive will deliver 200 turkeys to the plates of those in need throughout the Barre community and region, including nine charity/nonprofit organizations. The organizations to receive turkeys are Capstone, the Barre Congregational Church, the Hedding United Methodist Church, Project Independence, St. Monica’s Food Shelf, the Twin Valley Senior Center, the Washington County Youth Service Bureau, and the Websterville Food Shelf.
Barre Kiwanis Vice President Morgan Adams told The Bridge that their organization takes care of the fundraising, purchasing, and distribution of the Thanksgiving birds. The receiving organizations then prepare and serve the meals, which go to those in need and especially to often-isolated groups, such as the elderly.
The operation is growing year to year. It started at about 150 turkeys and has been expanding by about 10 each year.
“I took it over this year and now looking forward, I’d love to get the Montpelier Kiwanis involved and have an opportunity to deliver 1,200 turkeys to the Central Vermont area,” Adams said. “It’s one of those feel-good events, and I definitely think I’d love to see it grow even bigger.”
Christine Hartman of the Washington County Youth Service Bureau said her organization received 10 turkeys last year from the Barre Kiwanis and another 10 this year. The Bureau gathers turkeys from different turkey drives, with the biggest haul this year being 50 from National Life.
Each year, the Bureau puts on a Thanksgiving Day community meal at the Bethany Church in Montpelier. Last year, the group served 440 people in addition to 314 deliveries. She said the meals go to a wide range of people.
“It’s folks who are alone and who want to have that feeling of community,” she said. “Sometimes it’s the local people who are visiting the food shelves and the community meals. We have a wide demographic. It’s all kinds of people and all ages.”
She said the extra boost from Kiwanis is much appreciated.
“They are awesome, they collect a huge number of turkeys,” she said. “When we were having our turkey drive, we talked to them about how they go about doing theirs. They are really impressive, and they are such a great community support.”
Rita Copeland with Twin Valley Senior Center receives eight turkeys, which amount to over 100 meals for the towns they serve. Twin Valley runs the Meals on Wheels program in addition to numerous services at their center on Route 2 in East Montpelier.
“It’s a big, big help when you are a nonprofit, I know,” Copeland said.
She said they cook the turkeys at the center, package them, and volunteers deliver them to homes in the five towns they serve, noting that the elderly population stands out as a group not just in need of the meals but—just as important—the community interactions, either when they come to the center or chatting a few times a week when they get home deliveries.
“Some of them are quite isolated, they don’t have company,” she said. “And so it’s a way that the volunteer drivers are also doing a welfare check on them and make sure they are okay, to say hello and visit with them.”
Michael Bielawski is a freelance reporter for The Bridge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.