The Chamber of Commerce Turkey Drive raised $50,381 that will be split between the Cranbrook Food Bank and Salvation Army for their Christmas hamper programs, announced organizers on Wednesday.
Major Ginny Kristensen and Nancy Lemire, representing the Salvation Army, and Gerry Oviatt, with the Cranbrook Food Bank Society, accepted the donations on behalf of their organizations during a monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“I just like to thank the community here for the generosity that’s shown up in this Turkey Drive and it’s just been such a supportive community for us to carry on our duties and help the people who are less fortunate than we are, so thank you very much,” said Oviatt.
Major Kristensen reminisced about garnering support for the first Turkey Drive many years ago and the immediate response she got from the community.
“I’m totally overwhelmed at how rapidly this community will respond to a cry for help and how you’ve carried it on,” Kristensen said. “…that goes so far to helping our friends, who — through no fault of their own — are in that position of needing some help at Christmas.”
Turkey Drive donations were collected by a dedicated volunteer team of, ahem, “Little Pluckers” that included Nathan Lieuwen (Cranbrook Bucks), Brent Jossy (Scotiabank) Josh Lowden and Chad Jensen (New Dawn Developments), Sean Campbell (Community Futures), John Solomon, Tom Shypitka (Kootenay East MLA), Chris Botterill (Genex Marketing), John Hudak (city councillor), Karin Penner.
Penner, who has been lovingly dubbed the “Mother Plucker” by the volunteer team, once again was the top fundraiser, single-handedly raising $17,533 to keep the coveted Turkey Platter.
All told, since the inception of the Turkey Drive, the community has raised over half a million dollars, according to Jason Wheeldon.
It’s not just the corporate donations that move the fundraising needle, but also a groundswell of small individual ones, that help the Turkey Drive reach new fundraising heights.
“From the teenagers coming in with their $20 bills right up to the biggest donations, it’s a community collective effort,” said Wheeldon.
Next year will be a bit of a changing of the guard, as some longtime Turkey Drive volunteers are set to retire to clear the way for ushering in a younger generation of organizers.