Annual turkey drive feeds hundreds

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Nov 26, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Phillip White, from left, Robert Edwards and Tammy White from the Maggie Valley Area Lodging Association unload donated boxes of Thanksgiving dinner. Each box contains a whole, uncooked turkey, dressing, vegetables, bread, dessert, and even a disposable foil-baking pan for preparing the bird.

Heavy boxes in heavy rain wasn’t enough to stop the Haywood County Department of Social Services and the Maggie Valley Area Lodging Association from providing Thanksgiving dinners to 250 families in need.

Every year since 1997, the MVALA holds an annual Turkey Drive to benefit Haywood County’s disadvantaged residents. Over the years, the program has expanded from providing 45 box dinners to 250 boxes thanks to generous donations.

Over the years, the drive has become a true tradition that many look forward to. A donation of $25 provides a full meal-plus, to a family who may otherwise go without Thanksgiving. The dinner includes a whole, uncooked turkey, dressing, vegetables, bread, dessert, and even a disposable foil-baking pan for preparing the bird.

Jeanne Naber, coordinator of Meals on Wheels and the turkey drive, said she was pleased to be able to give away 250 boxes this year, noting that that was the number donated last year.

“We are very grateful to the MVALA that they are helping people in need this holiday season,” Naber said. “They are wonderful. Every single one of them go out of their way to help us.”

While the turkey drive has expended over the years, so has the need, which has resulted in a turkey drive waiting list, Naber said.

“We get a lot of referrals and people calling in,” Naber said. “We try to help as many people as we possibly can.”

Tammy White, president of the MVALA, said she was glad the association had collected enough donations to provide 250 boxes again this year.

“We hope to increase next year, but that will depend on the donations,” White said, adding that the goal was to provide 275 boxes next year. “I want to say thanks to Ingles and DSS — and especially the people donate the money. We couldn’t do it without the donations that come in.”

The association volunteers works with Ingles-Waynesville’s Manager Jeff Henderson and his staff to purchase and package the food and with the DeSS for its delivery. DSS determines who will receive the Thanksgiving meals based on economic criteria. The MVLA deliver the packaged boxes to DSS headquarters, and their counselors help the group hand them out.

“They’re all standing there waiting for the boxes — they’re excited too,” White said. “It feels good to be able to help them.”