By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT – Since announcing that it didn’t have enough turkeys to meet its Thanksgiving dinner distribution needs, the Newburyport Salvation Army has seen a flood of donations from residents and businesses looking to help.
Lieutenant Jeff Brunelle of the Newburyport Salvation Army chapter said he has received dozens of turkeys from people over the last couple of days, along with grocery store gift cards and coupons that he can use to buy more turkeys for those in need.
“We’ve probably got another 35 turkeys that have been delivered, with different people bringing one or two,” Brunelle said. “One person even brought 10.”
Brunelle said the Salvation Army isn’t quite where it needs to be to meet its needs yet, but said he was blown away by the response from the community and was grateful to everyone who stepped forward to help.
On Tuesday, the Salvation Army had only 65 turkeys to give out to the 128 local families who had already registered for the annual Thanksgiving dinner distribution, along with the dozens more he expected would register before the holiday. After The Daily News published a front page appeal for turkeys, residents throughout the region flooded the Salvation Army with help.
With the influx of turkeys, the Salvation Army now has well over 100, and Brunelle said Chase and Lunt Insurance on State Street reached out and said whatever they were short at the end, they would write a check to cover the rest.
“We’re so thankful that our Thanksgiving needs have been met,” Brunelle said, adding that the Salvation Army is still working to feed the hungry every day while encouraging those who donated to consider donating again once Christmas season comes around.
Brunelle also made a point to mention the help local establishments like the Starboard Gallery restaurant and Turning Point Inc. have been by providing a place to store all the Thanksgiving turkeys.
“We have limited freezer space at the Salvation Army, we probably only have enough to store 40,” Brunelle said. “So the owners there have been gracious enough to allow us to use some of their freezer space.”
Local schoolchildren have also been generous. The River Valley Charter School held a fundraiser in which funds were collected in exchange for pies, but instead of giving pies to the donors, they will be donated to the Salvation Army. And Brown School children made their usual pilgrimage to the Salvation Army with cartfuls of donated food this week.
The Salvation Army has been holding a Thanksgiving dinner distribution annually for decades, and in addition to turkeys, the organization also collects other holiday staples like mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberries.
The Salvation Army is located at 40 Water Street and can be contacted at 978-465-0883.