Sunday, August 6, a great family fun event happens with music, food, and family-oriented activities. Hundreds of people from the Northwest Indiana area converge each year for Turkeypalooza to enjoy the festivities. The even more exciting thing about Turkeypalooza is what the funds raised during the event do – feed thousands and thousands of people in our community with food and other blessings to show a love that they may not otherwise experience everyday.
“I had the opportunity to volunteer at LifeBridge Church when the families selected to receive a complete meal to take home and prepare for their Thanksgiving. The awesome thing about 500 Turkeys was the high-loving-touch approach of every aspect of the families experience. They came into the church, enjoyed an array of lunch items, snacks, and beverages, sat, relaxed, and enjoyed some fellowship. The volunteers shared appreciation with the families for participating in the program. I sat with a family – dad and his two children – and talked for a little while. It turns out, it was the young daughter’s birthday. Fortunately, we had cake, which now became birthday cake. She was so excited! And her dad was so grateful.”
The initial goal of 500 Turkeys was to provide a complete meal for 500 families to take home and prepare. It was a prayerful “dare” accepted at a youth conference. A very different undertaking than serving a prepared meal for 500 people to come and eat. Jeni Bolton, upon whom the vision of 500 Turkeys was bestowed, engaged dozens of people to help collect 500 each of cans beans, corn, and sweet potatoes, boxes of corn bread, baking pans, and the many other “fixings” of a Thanksgiving meal. People raised funds to purchase turkeys. Logistics coordinated to pick-up, sort, pack, store, and then distribute 500 meals across two sessions the weekend before Thanksgiving. Churches, Township Trustees, food banks, and individuals nominated families to receive the boxes filled with food, faith, and love. After the dust settled, 500 Turkeys blessed nearly 600 families in year one.
As the old campfire song says, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going. And soon all those around, can warm up in its glowing.”
By most accounts, the impact was greater on the 500 Turkeys volunteers than the people it served. It was contagious!
Those that participated, anticipated what could be done to make next year bigger and better. And that momentum continues each year. It started as a ministry outreach of LifeBridge Church, but is now its own, stand-alone not-for-profit. The number of families served grows each year – despite the name staying the same. For 2017, the goal is 1,300 families. The sheer logistics of collecting food, boxing, storing, and distributing required a much larger facility, which was answered by First Valpo Nazarene Church. Dozens of businesses and organizations take on the challenge of collecting specific parts of the meal. Hundreds of volunteers come together to make it happen.
And thousands and thousands of people in-need in our community feel the love of a community of which they are a part – when many times they feel apart.
Turkeypalooza is a fun, easy way to join the 500 Turkeys effort to serve. It is also a way to learn about other opportunities to put your talents to work to serve in the larger effort.
“There are so many Biblical images of people coming together, with our own specific gifts, to work with the gifts and talents of others, in order to serve each other and others in our community,” adds RG. “We are not supposed to do it alone or to be expected to be an expert in all aspects of the project’s need. If we all bring what we can, we are certainly greater together and better able to meet the needs of others.”
Join the festivities, Sunday, August 6 for Turkeypalooza. Learn more about 500 Turkeys at 500Turkeys.com.
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