The Food Bank for Larimer County is holding a Thanksgiving turkey drive Thursday, November 19, from 7 am to 5 pm to make a difference in community members’ lives this holiday season.
Those seeking to donate a frozen turkey can stop by the Tour de Turkey locations in Fort Collins at 2535 S College Avenue and Loveland at 261 E 29th Street. This year the Food Bank for Larimer County hopes to receive 5,000 turkeys for distribution to needy families.
Food Bank for Larimer County works to provide help to anyone needing assistance with food insecurity. Diana, one of their clients, recalls when she first began utilizing the Food Bank for Larimer County, unsure if it was right for her.
“It was about this time last year I was getting ready to move from an expensive place to a HUD apartment, and I did not know how I was going to get by, so I put down my pride and went in there, and no-one made me feel less, or like I shouldn’t be there,” said Diana as “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins plays softly in the background. “I think that a lot of people were raised like me where you do not seek out that kind of help,” Diana said.
Diana, an educated woman, was born with an immune disease called “common variable immune deficiency” that impairs the immune system, causing people like Diana to be extremely susceptible to infections. When her healthcare cost continued to rise, she was not sure what she was going to do.
Diana remembered she had seen signs for Food Bank for Larimer County but never thought she, of all people, would walk in their doors. That all changed after the first time she went in.
“What was important to me was having some level of anonymity, and you do have to provide basic information. However, they are not going to give you the fifth degree,” said Diana. “I was never made to feel out of place and was welcomed from the time I got there,” Diana said.
It was not just the food that kept Diana returning to the Food Bank; it was the people. For people like Diana, who have to stay safer at home, it is a chance for a small amount of safe one-on-one personal contact.
“It has made such a difference in my life,” said Diana. “Initially, it helped because I was getting food, but it is so much more than that because it is also where I met Evelyn,” Diana said.
Evelyn is a long-time volunteer for Food Bank for Larimer County and a sharp 90-year-old woman who has become excellent friends with Diana after their initial interaction at the Food Bank. Evelyn and Diana have been good friends ever since and look forward to making each other smile each time Diana visits the Food Bank.
“When you meet someone who is that much older than you and is working as a volunteer in a food bank doing the best they can to help others, it is such an inspiration,” said Diana. “There are some people you meet where something clicks, and it makes a difference in your life,” Diana said.
The process of becoming a client of Food Bank for Larimer County was also painless for Diana as she was able to sign up, providing basic information about herself, which can be done either online or in person. Diana visits the Food Bank once a week and utilizes their drive-through, loading her vehicle up and taking her groceries home, and she encourages those in need to use this service as she does.
“People who need help can get healthy food and enjoy meals and the holidays that are coming up,” said Diana. “It can be a little piece in what people are struggling with right now as there are a lot of factors that go into why you might need to go to the food bank,” Diana said.
The first 250 people to donate turkeys at both the Fort Collins and Loveland Tour de Turkey locations will receive a New Belgium token, which can be exchanged for a six-pack of beer at New Belgium brewery curbside pickup before Thursday, December 31. A few turkey donors will win a New Belgium prize pack, which is valued at a total of $50.
The UCHealth Mobile Blood Bus will be on-site at the Loveland location for those looking to donate more than frozen turkeys. The Food Bank has received a record number of requests for holiday meals due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, and the Food Bank is estimating it will need to receive over 5,400 turkeys to ensure all can enjoy the holiday.
“Many of us use the term unprecedented when we talk about 2020, but in this case, it definitely applies,” said Food Bank for Larimer County CEO Amy Pezzani. “The goal of 5,400 turkeys for Thanksgiving is nearly double what we have collected in years past,” Amy said.
The Poudre School District’s (PSD) Turkey Roundup will also be a part of Tour de Turkey as a yearly tradition and will have participating schools deliver hundreds of turkeys to the event. A majority of those turkeys delivered by participating schools will go back to students in need at various PSD schools.
“The Larimer County Food Bank is a place where anyone who is hungry or needs help with food can go, and they are not going to be turned away,” said Diana. “That said, you have to be willing to cook it,” Diana said.