Local businesses and residents are preparing to gather up and donate turkeys to needy families this Thanksgiving.
Kellie Wilson, manager of compassion services at the Old Town Mission, distributes food boxes, complete with turkey, and serves Thanksgiving dinner to about 150 people.
Clients who are signed up with the mission will be able to pick up their Thanksgiving food boxes on Nov. 26.
"We give away 600-plus boxes and we've never run out of turkeys," she said. "They all come in on Tuesday and line up outside, down and around the building."
Most turkeys are donated by local residents, with businesses making up the rest. The Monday before the turkeys are distributed, the fire department sponsors a "raise the ladder" event at Fry's to encourage donations.
The mayor rides a ladder that is raised each time 100 turkeys are donated. Any monetary donations are used to buy supplies in bulk from a distributor in Phoenix.
"This weekend, we're also having a big food drive at every store," she said.
On Nov. 27, Thanksgiving dinner is served. Local clubs, schools and church groups make up the 200 volunteers that help out.
Cottonwood Elementary School third graders will package hundreds of food boxes the Monday before Thanksgiving.
The number of people who come into the mission for lunch has been increasing the last few weeks, Wilson said. According to a St. Mary's Food Bank hunger survey, one in four people in the Verde Valley struggle with hunger.
Larry Green Chevrolet has donated about 150 turkeys to Old Town Mission and St. Vincent de Paul each year for 15 years, said Travis Reid, general sales manager.
"We know there are less fortunate people out there who can use help," Reid said. "To have a fresh-baked turkey on the table at Thanksgiving means a lot."
Wilson said even with the 200 volunteers, help is always needed to give out turkeys, prepare the meals and serve families. To volunteer, call the mission at 928-634-7869.