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Over 900 Turkeys Collected for Seventh Annual Turkey Drive

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UMB. UMMC, and WJZ-TV partner for Thanksgiving Turkey Blessing Day to distribute over 900 turkeys to West Baltimore families.

bbrookins@umaryland.edu (Brittney Brookins) | Mon Nov 27, 2023

Over 900 Turkeys Collected for Seventh Annual Turkey Drive

November 27, 2023   |  

This Thanksgiving, the spirit of giving was alive and well in West Baltimore, thanks to a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Staff Senate and Office of Community Engagement, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), and WJZ-TV.

The partnership culminated i n the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Blessing Day, an effort supplying 958 turkeys and holiday cheer to families in West Baltimore who would have otherwise struggled to access a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) holds its annual Thanksgiving Drive organized by the Staff Senate and the Office of Community Engagement in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and WJZ-TV.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) holds its annual Thanksgiving Drive organized by the Staff Senate and the Office of Community Engagement in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and WJZ-TV.

“We are in a food desert, and many of the families in the surrounding communities often aren’t able to get out to get their Thanksgiving goods,” said Brian C. Sturdivant, MSW, director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships. “This, in part, is an effort to make life easier for our neighbors so they don’t have to travel so far to get what they need to have a wonderful Thanksgiving.”

Dedicated volunteers from UMB and UMMC energetically distributed turkeys among community collaborators in West Baltimore. The delivery day began at 7:30 a.m., with volunteers loading a U-Haul, a mobile van, and a UMB Police van with frozen turkeys procured from Shoppers Food. Once the turkeys were stowed, the volunteers set off on their journey to disperse the meals across 22 convenient pickup locations in West Baltimore for community members to retrieve their baskets.

“It’s one of the best days of the year where we help so many community members all throughout West Baltimore,” said Mariellen Synan, manager of community health improvement at UMMC. “Our schools, our patients, our community, everyone gets helped today, as many as we can.”

Thanksgiving Turkey Blessing Day went beyond merely providing meals. It also was about nurturing a sense of unity, compassion, and togetherness within the community.

“We know that our neighbors in Baltimore welcome us as a campus,” said Aaron Graham, JD, associate director of career development, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and president of the UMB Staff Senate. “As neighbors, we take care of our neighbors whenever possible.”

Hollins House, a residential community for adults age 62 and older as well as people with disabilities, was among the community partners that received turkeys for their residents and nearby families.

“Enterprise Community Development is an affordable housing provider operating across the Mid-Atlantic region, and UMB is a partner with our location, Hollins House,” said Nii Sowah, vice president of community impact strategies. "The UMB Community Engagement Center partners with us to provide resources and opportunities such as this that enrich the lives of our residents.”