Seattle church Turkey Drive brings Thanksgiving to others

When members talk about a turkey trot at Fauntleroy Church UCC in West Seattle, Wash., they aren’t talking about a run through the community on Thanksgiving morning. Instead, they are referring to the church drive that provides frozen turkeys to the community food bank, with congregants and community members trotting frozen turkeys to Sunday service the week before the holiday.

“When we started participating in White Center Food Bank’s Thanksgiving distribution 6 or 7 years ago, church members were lugging slippery turkeys to church on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and one of us loaded them in a car for delivery to the food bank,” said Larry Pierce, one of the drive’s organizers. “It’s now more complicated. In addition to bringing turkeys to church, we collect money to purchase boxes of turkeys from a local store and invite the food bank van to use our parking lot to receive turkeys contributed by the wider community.”

“This year, in an effort to double our giving to the White Center Food Bank, we decided to ask for cash donations as well as turkeys,” said the Rev. Eric Dale, interim senior minister. “Our older folks aren’t able to carry the turkeys to church, and young families have enough to coordinate to get ready for the holiday. And lo and behold, that worked brilliantly. We more than doubled our effort last year, and more importantly, our members–across all generations–were able to participate.”

On Sunday, Nov. 23, while 35 turkeys were collected from church members, the congregation raised $1,400 to buy additional birds to take to the food bank. On Monday morning, Pierce was trotting around West Seattle trying to buy more than 100 turkeys. He said that while it’s not as easy as one would think, he plans to make sure White Center Food Bank ends up with 187 turkeys from Fauntleroy church.

“What is so rewarding about the turkey drive is that it is a very tangible way of sharing Thanksgiving with our neighbors in need,” said Pierce. “Turkeys are real food that people can hold and struggle with. My fellow church members say that providing a turkey for the Food Bank makes it a little easier to eat all that stuff the following Thursday.”

The turkey drive, Pierce noted, is just one collaborative effort in a long relationship between Fauntleroy Church and the White Center Food Bank. The food bank, housed in a low-income community just east of the church, opened in 1972 to serve many local workers laid off by the Boeing Company that year. As the area’s population has grown, so has the number of people needing food assistance. Fauntleroy Church members have responded by serving on the food bank’s Board of Directors, and donating goods and services, supplying volunteers to serve food to the food bank’s clients. The White Center Food Bank, which is also a recipient of funds from the church’s outreach budget, should supply 1,000 families with Thanksgiving groceries this year.

“We have a very close relationship with the food bank,” said Dale. “It’s an ongoing mission project because it’s so close—just a half mile up the hill—and our people  have a real connection to it and the people they serve.”

“The need for assistance is much greater than ever before,” said Rick Jump, executive director of the White Center Food Bank. “We are very grateful for the partnership with Fauntleroy Church. It’s one of our largest church supporters and they really make the holidays easier for the families we serve.”

“The members of the congregation who help distribute food the three days before Thanksgiving are most affected by their act of sharing,” said Pierce. “The joy that clients express when they receive a turkey along with all the other Thanksgiving trimmings is unforgettable.”

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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