11,000 turkeys find homes in Clearwater

Over 25 years ago, a donor drove up to the Clearwater, Florida, Corps with approximately a dozen frozen turkeys in the trunk of her Mustang, asking that they be given to families in need in Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County. Over the past years, her gift has grown each year, resulting in 11,000 turkeys being provided this Thanksgiving.  

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has gathered friends around her who give toward this annual effort, which is not limited to the turkeys themselves, but includes vegetables, dressing and the other components of a Thanksgiving dinner. Weeks before Distribution Day, those wishing to receive a turkey call or visit the Social Services office to receive a free ticket.  Each ticket has a time indicated in order to better control the traffic during the distribution.  Anyone is eligible to receive a Thanksgiving turkey and meal.     

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic of this year, the turkeys were distributed as a drive-thru event, with six stations at which cars would stop. Once all six vehicles are in place, volunteers at each station place a turkey and the other items in each car. Once all the cars have been provided their donation, the signal is given and they drive out, leaving the six spaces vacant for the next set of six cars. This year, the only difference in the drive-thru is that the volunteers are kept COVID-safe with masks, gloves and social distancing.

Approximately half the turkeys are given to individuals at this event. The other half are provided for area corps as well as other agencies in Pinellas County that serve those with the need for food.