Thanksgiving dinners will be on the menu Thursday for 1,400 Valley families in need that got free turkeys and fixings at giveaways organized by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno.
Executive Director Kelly Lilles said the turkeys and a box of related items such as stuffing, canned yams, green beans, cranberries and instant mashed potatoes went to low-income families.
“We don’t want to see anyone go without on Thanksgiving,” she said.
Catholic Charities handed out 900 turkeys in Fresno, 300 in Merced and 200 in Bakersfield.
The Catholic Charities event was one of numerous food giveaways taking place across the region Wednesday in advance of Thanksgiving Day.
The Fresno giveaway was at 149 N. Fulton St. By the time Lilles arrived at 4:30 a.m., a line had already formed, she said.
We don’t want to see anyone go without on Thanksgiving.
Kelly Lilles, executive director, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno
The turkeys were passed out between 8 and 10 a.m., she said. They were stored in a refrigerator so they would not be frozen, she said.
Most of those who received the turkeys are typically a family of four getting by on less than $19,000 a year, she said.
The giveaway was limited to one turkey per family, and identifications were checked to enforce that, she said.
Most of the turkeys were donated, she said. Tuesday, a man drove up and grabbed two turkeys from his trunk, she said. He said that he’d “been down three times in his life” and had gotten free turkeys himself before but was doing well now and wanted to donate, Lilles said.
Kaiser Permanente donated $5,000 to buy turkeys and fixings.
This is the seventh year that Catholic Charities has conducted a turkey drive in conjunction with KSEE Channel 24. The same number of turkeys were collected this year as in 2015.