Thousands of cars lined up at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center for a helping hand Tuesday as 400 volunteers from Second Harvest loaded boxes filled with a Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings into their trunks.
Batches of 20 vehicles slowly rolled into a large warehouse with their trunk doors lifted as the volunteers loaded them with a 40-pound box of canned goods, apples, potatoes, rolls and more, much of which was donated from regional farms.
For Tom’s Turkey Drive, Second Harvest gave out more than 11,000 of those boxes. The drive, named after KREM-TV’s former Chief Meteorologist Tom Sherry, was celebrating its 23rd year.
“Our goal is to put the last box into the trunk of the last car,” Eric Williams, community partnership director at Second Harvest, said Tuesday. “The good-news-bad-news is that it’s grown, but it’s grown to fill a need.”
Anyone can come pick up a box for their household, as well as up to two additional boxes for their neighbors, friends or family who are homebound, Williams said.
Increased prices for food, rent and gas are all making it harder for families to get by this year, Williams said. Not to mention, bird flu this year could impact turkey availability and pricing, he said.
“How’s it going, guys? Happy Thanksgiving,” one driver said to volunteers as he drove through. “Thanks for being here.”
Volunteers in yellow vests, wearing gloves and caps, greeted oncoming drivers as they pulled into the loading area.
“This is my idea of fun – plus I get to help people out on a holiday. It’s also nice to greet people,” said Sam Piccolo, a 2nd Harvest volunteer. “Most of them are very grateful. Some are little bit embarrassed, but we make them feel welcome.”
Hundreds of vehicles idled in the fairground parking lot as they waited for their turn to drive through. A seemingly endless stream of vehicles trickled in from Havana Street.
“When times are bad, events like this make it better for people all around,” Larry Brake said.
Brake said his son and his son’s family recently moved in with him in his home on the South Hill, so he has more people to feed this year. He’s donated to Tom’s Turkey Drive in previous years, but this year he’s fine with being on the receiving end, he said.
“It’s really hard,” said Ashely Hanshaw, a single mother waiting in line for a box of food. “Something like this comes up and it really takes the weight off your shoulders.”
Williams said the success of the event would not happen were it not for the hundreds of volunteers and dozens of businesses who happily give their time and resources to help people in need each year.
“This could be a stressful time of year if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the need is way up,” Williams said. “If it wasn’t for such a giving community, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
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