Steve Zsillei (left) and Mike Adams, receiving the Turkey Platter as the top fundraiser from the Turkey Drive team of volunteers. Trevor Crawley photo.

Annual Turkey Drive campaign raises $85,000

The generosity of Cranbrook once again shined through as the annual Turkey Drive campaign substantially smashed it’s fundraising goal by raising $85,000.

Under the auspices of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, a team of volunteers — the “Little Pluckers” — have spent the last month canvassing for donations, hoping to reach $60,000.

Led by “chief turkey” Steve Zsillei, the team reached out to individuals and business for donations to the cause. As always, the money will be split between the Cranbrook Food Bank and Salvation Army annual Christmas hamper programs.

“I just want to say that we’re all going through our challenges, but this community, year after year…we thought last year was unbelievable and we do it again and it’s genuinely amazing, the big hearts we have here,” said Christine Hoechsmann, president of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce board, during the announcement at a Chamber event on Wednesday.

Mike Adams was recognized as the “Mother Plucker” — the top individual fundraiser from the volunteer team of fundraisers.

Deanna Kemperman, representing the Cranbrook Food Bank, and Anne Holden, with the Salvation Army, both provided an update on the operations of their respective organizations.

“I am blown away at the total, especially because so many of our businesses, our churches, individual residents gave so much during COVID, we were just humbled at the food bank, when COVID hit,” said Kemperman. “And all our food donations dried up, and yet you’re still trying to feed people. “You put the word out and the money came in and we were able to buy food, so the fact that you guys raised another $85,000 right after COVID is just incredible.”

Since 2015, Kemperman says the Food Bank gives an average of 300 hampers around Christmas.