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CURRENT ISSUE:  November 7, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
Catholics avoid Web for church news
 
Serving the hungry continues throughout the year
Turkey Fund collecting donations
 

An enduring tradition of holiday giving began during a commute.

 
To give:
Send a check payable to Catholic Charities Turkey Fund to:
John McMahon
1111 Broadway, 22nd floor
Oakland, CA 94607

To receive:
Parishes and agencies may direct requests to Joe Vallor at Catholic Charities of the East Bay at jvallor@cceb.org.
 
“I started it because I heard on the radio that there was a shortage of turkeys,” said John McMahon, a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch in Oakland.

The turkeys turned out to be a tangible way of giving for McMahon. “I wanted to see where my money went,” he said. “I got in touch with Catholic Charities.”

He also rounded up the turkeys. “I called Safeway,” he said. “They’ve been fantastic.”

That first Christmas, 1996, the Turkey Fund gave away 375 turkeys.

In 2009, the number of Christmas turkeys grew to 1,400.

Last year, the Turkey Fund gave recipients $15 Safeway gift cards in lieu of a turkey.

This year, the Turkey Fund hopes to return to handing out the turkeys. It’s hard to find a good facility from which to distribute so many turkeys, McMahon said. This year’s distribution site was still being determined; walk-in refrigeration and fork-lifts are required.

Donations are welcome, especially, as McMahon, said, “when times are so difficult.”

“Word has spread over the years,” McMahon said, and he reaches out to the list of people who have given in the past, including “people in my office, friends and strangers.”

Each turkey costs about $8 and feeds four people. “Eighty dollars feeds 40 people,” McMahon said. Donations, to the Catholic Charities Turkey Fund, should be received by Dec. 15.

McMahon said he was so pleased to work side by side with his children on turkey distribution day, when they were growing up. Now both are off at college.

“People are so kind and grateful,” he said. “I love to teach my kids the beauty of giving. We get more out of this than anyone who gets it.”

Recipients include those served by about 20 parishes, Catholic Charities programs and about eight to 10 community nonprofit organizations. Joe Vallor at Catholic Charities has been a major part of the Turkey Fund “every single year,” McMahon says. Vallor handles the requests from parishes and service organizations for turkeys. Contact him at jvallor@cceb.org.

Often, McMahon said, he’ll receive “thank you” notes from grateful recipients of the Christmas turkeys.
“The notes are beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time,” McMahon said.

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