Crystal is a single mom of two teenage boys. She arrived at the arena early to pick up her meal in time to make it to an event at her sons’ school that morning. Crystal has had a hard time finding a job recently. She heard about Tom’s Turkey Drive from a friend in her mental health support group and decided to attend for the first time to help feed her boys. “They have hollow legs, so they eat a lot,” she joked. The distribution helped relieve some stress that the holiday brings for Crystal. “I can actually provide a Thanksgiving meal for them. I’m not worried that everyone else is getting a meal but my kids.” This year, Crystal was grateful for the supporters of Tom’s Turkey Drive. “Thank you. You have no idea how this is going to help my family. And thank you doesn’t even come close to what it means to me.”
Shannon stood in line in the cold, the oldest of the three generations of women in her family that came to Tom’s Turkey Drive. Luckily, a volunteer handed her a hand-knit scarf, which she promptly wrapped around her neck. This was her third time at the event, and the family has made it a tradition to come together. Shannon and her family feel the higher costs of the season—heating bills and other added expenses. Tom’s Turkey Drive gives Shannon peace of mind during a stressful time of year. “It’s one less thing I have to worry about.” She said she would use the money she otherwise would have spent on a Thanksgiving meal for another need. “They give us a whole meal for the family, so it does help supplement so you don’t have to buy everything.” Shannon was in line early for the meal distribution, but she didn’t mind standing in line before the doors opened. “It’s worth the wait,” she said.
Sixty-one-year old Terry packed his positivity with him when he left for Tom’s Turkey Drive that morning. An Army veteran from Pittsburgh, he was struck by the kindness of the volunteers at the event. “People are friendly. The helpers—you can look in their eyes and tell in their hearts that they love what they’re doing.” This year was Terry’s third time at Tom’s Turkey Drive. Much of his limited income goes to his medications, the price of which will soon increase. But Terry wasn’t focused on that as he stood in line; he was excited about the Thanksgiving meal he was about to receive. When asked what dish he was most excited to eat, he replied, without missing a beat, “All the above.” As he looked around at all the young people volunteering that day, Terry reflected, “(They’re) doin’ my heart good. There’s hope yet.”
Sixty-year-old David left his home in Spokane Valley at 6:00AM to head to the arena for Tom’s Turkey Drive. He took the bus this time, but he’s ridden his bike in years past. David is on a fixed income that doesn’t leave much for food. “I need the food. I don’t get much. I get about $770 a month, and that’s not even enough to pay rent.” David worked on a dairy farm in the Tri-Cities for ten years before moving to Spokane, where he fell on hard times. But that hasn’t stopped him from giving back. He used to volunteer at House of Charity, a homeless shelter in Spokane, and now volunteers closer to home at the Dream Center, the food pantry he goes to in Spokane Valley. David said Tom’s Turkey Drive will not only give him a meal, but also hope for the future. “It’ll feed my belly. It’ll give me hope to do better—to do good, to be stable, to be financially stable. That’s what I want to be. It’s coming. It takes time though.”
Clancy stood in the hallway of the arena outside the resource fair set up on people’s route to receive their Thanksgiving meal. He was waiting for a woman he had met in line whom he had offered a ride after the event. While at the arena, she found out her son was sick and needed to be picked up from school, but her bus ride home would delay her arrival there. “I’m not going to let that happen,” Clancy said. Clancy was born and raised in Spokane. A recovered addict, he has been sober for three and a half years. “I was a broken-down old man,” he said. Now, Clancy is healthy and looked forward to spending Thanksgiving with his 84-year-old mom. But because he’s disabled and living on a fixed income, a full Thanksgiving meal was hard for him to afford. Clancy noted how Tom’s Turkey Drive serves the community in more ways than one. “One, we get fed. And two, it’s the idea of sharing. It brings people closer together. It shows unity. It shows people are people no matter who they are.”
Rebekah and her family recently moved to the Tri-Cities from the west side, after one of their daughters passed away. Since she and her husband aren’t working yet, they were relieved to learn about the Turkey Drive through one of Second Harvest’s local partner agencies (The Salvation Army-Pasco). Being able to receive a turkey and all the sides is a big help for them financially while they’re getting settled in the community.
“It means a lot to us. There are so many families in need and it means the world to them to just be able to have a holiday that they can’t otherwise afford. It’s special. It makes me want to cry.”
Wenda has lived in Yakima all her life. She is a recovering addict who has been abstinent for eight years. She visits the food bank at the OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) in Yakima to help stretch her food stamps and small monthly SSI (Supplemental Security Income) check.
Wenda learned about the Turkey Drive distribution at the food bank, where she also volunteers. Since she loves helping others, she offered to volunteer at Second Harvest’s Yakima distribution.
Since her budget is tight, Wenda planned to also take a Thanksgiving meal box home. While she only has a microwave in her small apartment, she and her two sisters were planning to cook Thanksgiving dinner at their dad’s house to celebrate the holiday. “It helps us tremendously. We all pitch in and help.” When asked how it felt to be helping distribute holiday meal boxes to 300 local families in need, she reflected, “It feels awesome. It makes me feel wanted, worthy, to help out today.”