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Islanders organize annual turkey, goods collection for those in need

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Nov 10, 2020

A couple on Sanibel, with the assistance of volunteers and neighbors, will once again collect frozen turkeys and non-perishable food items to help locals in need have a happy holiday this month.

In its fifth year, the Sanibel East End Turkey Drop and Roll will take place on Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the home of Henry and Sandy Peterson, at 444 Lagoon Drive. Henry Peterson, a retired Sysco employee, explained that he had worked with food banks up north helping those in need.

“It’s one of those things that’s needed once a year,” he said of the event.

“And it just makes you feel good,” Peterson added.

All of the donations will go to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.

“This year, there’s even more people that are looking for assistance,” he said. “Harry Chapin got almost ten times the volume of requests than what they did last year, so they need all the help they can get.”

The food bank is providing a refrigerated truck for the turkeys and a vehicle for the dried goods. This year, neighbors and volunteers will run the collection day as the Petersons may not be in town yet.

Two representatives from the food bank will also be on hand to supervise.

“They’re going do it in front of our house because everybody’s used to it,” Peterson said.

Also new this year in response to COVID-19, the event will be touch-less.

“You open the truck and we’ll take it out. Same as if you’re getting groceries to go or food to go,” he said. “You don’t have to get out of your car, you don’t have to do anything. Just show up with it.”

The first year, a total of 10 turkeys were collected.

“Last year we did about 1,700 pounds (of turkey), plus groceries,” Peterson said. “Every year we’ve been growing and growing and growing. I don’t ever want to stop as long as I’m able to do it.”

Frozen turkeys are accepted, along with non-perishable items.

He recommended smaller turkeys, like 10 or 12 pounds, versus large ones.

“That would be wonderful. Everybody is going to be in smaller groups this year,” Peterson said, referring to health officials’ recommendation to avoid large gatherings due to the pandemic.

Dry and canned goods to go with the meat also are welcome.

“Anything non-perishable that goes along with a turkey dinner,” he said, citing cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables. “As long as we can make up some food bags for people.”

While frozen turkeys and food items are preferred, monetary donations and checks made out to the Harry Chapin Food Bank will be accepted. The two food bank representatives will collect those.

The community is invited to stop by and donate.

“With such a tough year as it’s been, maybe it’ll just make you feel good,” Peterson said.

The couple thanked those lending an extra hand this year, plus past participating donors.

“There’s a lot of nice generous people on Sanibel,” he said.

For more information or questions, contact the Petersons at 239-395-2476.