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Sharing the gift of food through The Rotary Turkey Drive

The Kitchener-Conestoga Rotary Club’s Turkey Drive feeds 4,000 families in Waterloo Region
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A Christmas turkey is the centrepiece for most holiday feasts. The bird is a symbol of abundance and -nourishment, and it’s often the dinner table’s main attraction at family gatherings.

Unfortunately, enjoying a Christmas feast with all the festive trimmings isn’t a reality for many underprivileged households. During the holidays, it can be especially difficult for some families to put food on the table.

Generous members of the community are ensuring everyone has a turkey on their dinner table this Christmas. The Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga’s Turkey Drive is sharing the gift of food by supplying local families with the ingredients they need to host a Christmas dinner.

But it wasn’t always this way. In 2003, Barry Abelson wanted to donate to the House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper Program but noticed the hampers didn’t include a turkey. As a charitable gesture, he donated $3,000 out of his own pocket to ensure every hamper included a frozen turkey for families to take home.

In the following years, Abelson reached out to fellow Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga members — including Jim Erb of Erb & Good Funeral Home — and asked if they would help with the initiative. The Rotary adopted Abelson’s turkey drive program in 2007. That year, the turkey drive raised $109,000 for families in need.

To date, the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga has raised $3.3 million through the turkey drive program. This year, they aim to surpass the $400,000 mark and hope to fill 4,000 Christmas hampers for friends and neighbours in Waterloo Region.

Kitchener-Waterloo is a diverse community, which is why the House of Friendship provides the option for a regular turkey or a Halal turkey. Christmas hampers also include a gift card, which recipients can use towards purchasing perishable items for the holidays.

How can you help? All it takes is a donation of $25 to provide a local family with a turkey for their Christmas feast. Donations of $100 will feed an entire family of four with a complete Christmas food hamper from the House of Friendship.

The turkey drive is possible thanks to a legion of devoted volunteers. For those who wish to donate their time, the House of Friendship is recruiting 600 volunteers to assist with the delivery of their hampers. Volunteer applications are available through the House of Friendship website.

Help your friends and neighbours enjoy the Christmas dinner they deserve. For more information about the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga’s Turkey Drive, visit

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