The team of Turkey Drive volunteers from 2018 take a break from the action for a photo. Black Press file photo.

The team of Turkey Drive volunteers from 2018 take a break from the action for a photo. Black Press file photo.

Chamber Turkey Drive officially underway

Members of the public can pledge donations on Thursday, Dec. 5 to support Christmas hamper programs

The annual Turkey Drive is now underway and set to culminate on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Organizers have set a goal of raising $50,000 which will be split between the Salvation Army and the Cranbrook Food Bank for their Christmas Hamper initiatives over the holiday season.

Chris Andrews, with Wildstone Golf Course, helped Jason Wheeldon launch the fundraising drive with a $1,000 donation during a Chamber of Commerce event last week.

The Turkey Drive, now in its 10th year, consists of a volunteer team of local celebrities and community leaders who collect pledges for a charitable cause that has raised nearly half a million dollars over the last decade.

Members of the public can phone the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce office on Dec. 5th and pledge a turkey donation. Each turkey translates into a $20 donation.

“The Salvation Army and the Cranbrook Food bank give assistance year-round to those in our community, and our Turkey Drive allows them to focus on what they do best: helping individuals and families in our community,” said Wheeldon, returning Chief Turkey. “The Turkey Drive funds a large portion of the Christmas Hamper programs for both organizations, and if they hit this year’s target, we will close in on raising close to half a million dollars for these organizations since the inception of the Turkey Drive.”

It all started when a local community agency put out a call for help with their hamper programs in 2009. Within four hours, Chamber staff and members had banded together to fundraise and meet that need.

“The Chamber is more than just an organization that represents the business community; it is an organization that strives for a healthy community and is proud to partner with the Salvation Army , Cranbrook Food Bank and the many dedicated volunteers that dedicate their resources and time to meeting the needs of our community,” said Jason Fast, President of the Chamber. “We are excited, as a Board, to host this year’s Turkey Drive and help two outstanding agencies deliver the services over the holiday season.”

The pledge team of ‘Little Pluckers’ joining Wheeldon this year include some recognizable names and faces, such as:

• Nathan Lieuwen – Cranbrook Bucks

• Brent Jossy – Scotiabank team

• Josh Lowden and Chad Jensen – New Dawn Developments

• Sean Campbell – Community Futures

• John Salomon

• Tom Shypitka – Kootenay East MLA

• Chris Botterilll – Genex Marketing

• John Hudak – City of Cranbrook councillor

• Karin Penner (affectionately known as the Turkey Drive’s ‘Mother Plucker’)

Penner is consistently the top fundraiser and currently holds the coveted Turkey Platter — the award handed out to the celebrity fundraiser that raises the most donations.

“To me, the true meaning of Christmas is to show love and take care of our neighbour, and the Turkey Drive fulfills that need for Cranbrook and overwhelmingly so,” said Karin Penner, who has been involved since the very beginning and has been lovingly dubbed the Mother Plucker.

Community members can phone the Chamber of Commerce at 250-426-5914 on Thursday, Dec. 5th, and make their pledge. Payment options vary, with credit card, invoicing, personal cheques and a new online feature available through the Chamber’s website.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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