Members of the Coventry Firefighters Union arrived at the town's Food Bank on Thursday afternoon to deliver 70 14-pound turkeys to be given to families in need for their holiday meals.
This is the second year that the Union has donated turkeys in addition to other various fundraisers that are held throughout the year to support the food bank, such as the Police vs. Fire Charity Basketball Game in the spring.
Union President Dave Gorman explained that a turkey was donated for every member of the Union and that the purchase was 100 percent funded by member dues and the Union's relief fund.
"We want to make sure that we help out as much as we can this year," said Gorman. "Last year we found out that more families than expected needed the meals, so we brought more turkeys."
According to Food Bank Coordinator Stefani Dugas, the bank, located in the Family Health Services building at 191 MacArthur Blvd., will give out about 125 Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. The baskets contain all of the fixings for a traditional meal, including a turkey or a Shaw's gift card to purchase one, fresh potatoes and carrots, eggs, margarine, corn, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling and a pie crust.
Dugas explained that about 90 percent of families that receive the baskets use the food bank regularly, but there are some residents who find it difficult to make it through the holiday season and ask for assistance on a one-time basis.
"About 10 percent of our holiday baskets go to people who make do the rest of the year, but just need a little extra help with their Thanksgiving meal," she said.
Following in the spirit of giving, the food bank experiences an increase in donations during the holiday season, from residents dropping off checks, individual basket donations or food drives like the one recently done by the Boy Scouts that brought in over 21,000 pounds of food.
Coventry schools and local churches have also agreed to donate almost two dozen additional turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.
"It is a huge help and we are so thankful for all of the donations that we receive, especially around the holidays," said Dugas. "It seems like we go from almost zero to a room full of food that will get us through about five months."
The 70 turkeys donated by the firefighters definitely added to the "room full of food" description, as they completely filled two of the food bank's large freezers.
Employees of the Human Services department and volunteers will begin putting together the Thanksgiving baskets around 11 a.m. on Monday morning. Residents are welcome to stop by to lend a hand or bring in donations.