Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Day

In the US, Turkey Day is Thanksgiving, the last Thursday in November.  When I was growing up, Christmas Day was Turkey Day, though we often had turkey for Easter dinner.  There is no Thanksgiving holiday in Ireland and, after 19 years here, I still can't really get into the spirit of the holiday.  I am definitely thankful, but I suppose not having grown up with the tradition, and not having family here means it is just one of those rare long weekends and I am most thankful for that.

I have always wanted to volunteer to help my friend Richard's charity, Operation Turkey at Thanksgiving. Most years I take advantage of the extra few days off work and head to Ireland or France, or both, to visit family but as I get older, traveling in the winter months is less attractive so this year was one of the first I had decided to spend at home in Texas so I signed up.
Waiting at PF Changs to get started

My wonderful mother in law agreed to come along which was pretty impressive considering she has two artificial knees.


We were up early on Thanksgiving morning and headed off in very chilly morning, unusually cold for Austin, it was 36 degrees F.  Operation Turkey feeds the homeless in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Marcos and has a number of locations in Austin.  Some incredible people give up their time and both Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill and PF Changs Restaurant open up their premises for this amazing effort. We were heading to PF Changs Restaurant, North West Austin, being our nearest location.

We thought we were early, but there was already quite a crowd waiting to get started.  Getting started took some time, but eventually things began moving and boxes were steadily making their way along a human conveyor belt, picking up turkey, dressing, veggies, cranberry jelly, gravy, bread roll, pumpkin pie and plastic utensils, then they were closed and loaded into waiting cars and whisked off to various locations where they were distributed to the homeless and needy.




It was most definitely not a well oiled machine, but it was a very cheerful, well meaning machine and it got the job done.  There were a few minor hiccups, such as a table full of large cans of cranberry jelly and no can openers.  A couple of the men quickly improvised and started opening cans with large, sharp, kitchen knives.  Amazingly it worked and even more amazing no one was injured, but it was a slow process, finally someone came across a bag full of can openers and things speeded up quite a bit.



When all the food was all packed into boxes and off the premises it was time for the cleanup.  That task took almost as long.

I can remember when I first met Richard he told me about how he started Operation Turkey - I guess that was about 13 years ago, and not only has he continued to feed the homeless every year since then, he has grown and spread way beyond Austin.  Showing amazing dedication and incredible energy.

'Like' Operation Turkey on Facebook.  And do consider either volunteering next year if you live in central Texas, or donating to the cause - better yet, why not do both!