STEUBENVILLE - Tom the Turkey isn't new to the Urban Mission's annual Thanksgiving fundraising campaign to generate funds to supply food baskets to the area's needy.
But he's never "gone on the road" so to speak, at least not until this year.
Area residents can expect, however, to catch sight of the 6-foot wooden sign that tracks giving when he makes stops at local schools and businesses, all in an effort to raise awareness about the needs of the area's hungry and homeless.
READY TO GO — Jennifer Vickers, left, development director, Urban Mission Ministries in Steubenville, and Sharon Kirtdoll, director of community development, get ready to send Tom the Turkey on his way as the Urban Mission kicks off its Thanksgiving fundraising campaign to generate $52,000 to help more than 1,500 families have holiday food baskets. Tom the Turkey, a 6-foot wooden sign, will make appearances at schools and businesses to raise awareness to the needs of the area’s hungry and homeless population. — Janice R. Kiaski
"We thought this would be a good way to get the word out in the community," said Sharon Kirtdoll, director of community development, in explaining the reason behind the turkey's travels. The sign traditionally is in the mission office, there as a barometer of progress made in the collection process.
She and Jennifer Vickers, development director, said Tuesday that Urban Mission has officially launched its Thanksgiving campaign to collect $52,000 to help more than 1,500 families this holiday.
The mission provides a food basket with enough to feed a family of four for Thanksgiving and a few days afterward, according to the two.
A basket costs $35 and includes traditional holiday fare such as stuffing, potatoes and cranberry sauce in addition to a $10 meat voucher.
Anyone wanting to donate to the campaign can make a check payable to Urban Mission with Thanksgiving marked in the memo line. Checks can be sent to the mission at 301 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, Ohio, 43952. Questions can be directed to Linda Smith, program director, at (740) 282-2911.
"Tom is ready to travel," Vickers said, noting the turkey will have company in the Rev. Bruce Hitchcock, the mission's executive director, who will reinforce the need for help while explaining the mission's many services.
"We are aiming at doing more baskets because we expect an increase in the number because our monthly distributions have increased," Kirtdoll said.
The mission will host a communitywide tag day on Oct. 16 at various locations with volunteers wearing mission T-shirts. The tag day will be done with the assistance of Manfred's Catering and Banquet, and local volunteers will assist.
The mission's Thanksgiving distribution will be Nov. 17-19, each day from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Each family will receive a 50-pound bag of groceries and a certificate for a meat item to help celebrate the season.
The Thanksgiving community lunch will be held Nov. 24 at noon at Urban Mission's Unity Kitchen and is open to all who would like to fellowship.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)