NEWBURYPORT — The Salvation Army is facing a significant shortage of turkeys as demand for the group’s annual Thanksgiving assistance program this year has spiked compared to a year ago.
Jeff Brunelle, lieutenant of the Newburyport chapter of the Salvation Army, said the group currently has only 65 donated turkeys for the distribution, half of what’s needed to meet demand. Brunelle said he already has 128 families signed up, and he expects that number to grow in the next week leading up to Tuesday’s distribution to needy families.
“Last year we had 139 families that we provided the turkey dinners to for them to take home and cook for dinner,” Brunelle said. “This year we already have 128 signed up and Thanksgiving is not until next week, so we expect to have more.”
At this point last year, only 100 families had signed up before another 39 registered during the last week before the holiday. If a similar rush happens this year, the Salvation Army could need another 100 birds to meet demand.
As a result, Brunelle is reaching out to the community to help the organization meet its goal. Anyone who can donate a turkey, or a coupon or check to buy one, is encouraged to contribute.
Despite the tall numbers, rushing to meet Thanksgiving turkey shortages is nothing new for the Salvation Army. Because turkeys can’t be collected months ahead of time like canned food and other non-perishables can be at food drives, there tends to be a mad rush in the month of November.
“They don’t collect them months ahead of time because they’re frozen, they won’t be any good,” Brunelle said. “So what they do is the day of the distribution, if they’re going to provide the turkeys, they’ll make sure we get them the day we distribute them so they’re fresh.”