The Haven’s Turkey Day is one of the most wonderful days of the year
Visitor or volunteer, Turkey Day is a universally loved event at the Upper Valley Haven. Held annually since 2010, it takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Staff comes together with 75 volunteers to distribute the ingredients for 800 Thanksgiving meals to families throughout the region.
Because of COVID social-distancing precautions, last year’s Turkey Day moved across Route 5 to the grounds of Hartford High School. Cars lined up on one of the residential streets next to the high school and made one continuous loop through the parking lot. Visitors stopped at various stations to pick up a 14-pound frozen turkey, two pounds of butternut squash and potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce, and thanks to King Arthur Baking, homemade dinner rolls and pumpkin pie. After they made the loop, visitors had the option to pull over to another area of the parking lot to get a free flu shot from our friends at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic.
“It made it so much smoother than having people stand in line and then maneuver in and out the Haven parking lot,” says Food Shelf Manager Lori Wick. The entire day went so smoothly that Turkey Day will now remain at Hartford High School. “The volunteers had a ball, running food over on shopping carts to the trunk of each car. They were able to interact with visitors through car windows and see the smiles on people’s faces. Visitors never even had to get out of their cars. It was terrific.”
In addition to the 800 meals distributed on Turkey Day, another 400 are given out during Thanksgiving Week, according to Director of Operations Jennifer Fontaine. “We buy 1,000 turkeys from the Vermont Foodbank in South Barre. We’re fortunate that local businesses and individuals donate turkeys,” Jennifer notes. One major donor is the DHMC Blood Donor Program through its Thanks for Giving blood drive which provided us this year with 316 turkeys. Blood Donor Relations Specialist Amber Grantham, who facilitates the program said, “I could not be happier or more excited to say that the program and our amazing donors raised 316 turkeys for the Haven this year. We beat last year’s donation of 249 turkeys and my own personal goal of 300 turkeys.”
“We have families who have a tradition of coming together to buy the ingredients for a full Thanksgiving meal and giving it to the Haven,” adds Lori. “It’s wonderful that people have the ability to do this. So many in our community wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving without it. Turkey Day is definitely one of the most uplifting days of the year.”