Firefighters fill last-minute turkey shortage

November 26, 2008 1:57:22 PM PST
A San Jose community service center will continue handing out meal boxes until 5 p.m. today for families in need who want to prepare their own home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving Day, a spokeswoman said.

Sacred Heart Community Service will give out a total of 3,300 food boxes, each with a turkey, to households who want to prepare a home-cooked meal but can't afford all the traditional fixings, spokeswoman Kimberley Abate said.

"We are the only agency giving out food boxes as late as we do today," Abate said. "It's really critical for us to be able to provide food to these families, because if they can't get it from us then there are no other options."

Abate said Sacred Heart, which provides basic services such as food and clothing as well as education and other aid for the working poor, will be open to anyone interested today, not just San Jose residents. Those seeking meal boxes don't have to show proof of need.

About 1,100 boxes will be handed out today.

The boxes are filled with a turkey, chicken or ham, rice, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, more than 10 canned items, bread and dessert. Extra groceries will be included to carry households for an additional three days after the holiday, Abate said.

"It's so our families are able to provide and share in the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal," she said. "Most of our families are working families. They're out there working, bringing home a pay check, but it's not enough to cover all their basic needs, certainly not for Thanksgiving."

Households picking up food boxes from Sacred Heart, at 1381 S. First St. in San Jose, will be asked to show a government-issued identification card and proof of address so recipients can be entered into the system.

While Sacred Heart has worked to create food boxes for thousands of families, the service was not sure every family would receive a turkey until an outpouring of support Tuesday night brought in hundreds of birds.

San Jose firefighters heard about the critical need for food Monday, when Sacred Heart was several hundred turkeys short of filling every food box, and decided to donate one turkey per shift. At 34 stations with three shifts per station, 102 turkeys were carried on a fire truck for delivery to Sacred Heart Tuesday afternoon.

Several other agencies also donated turkeys after hearing about the shortage, Abate said.

While the Thanksgiving boxes will be stocked, the Christmas holiday is fast approaching, Abate said. Sacred Heart's toy box program, which is also open to residents of all areas like the Thanksgiving program, is short on supplies.

"We are actually really, really low on toys for our toy box program," she said. "We are going to be giving away toys for 5,000 children, so it's going to be really hard for us to meet that need this year."

Families will be given the opportunity to register for the Christmas services, said Abate, who recommended families buying for their own children pick up an extra toy for children in need.

Information about Sacred Heart Community Service is available online.


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