Pass the turkey

Charles Robinson and Richard Clark arrived in downtown Hickory at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. They were waiting on a turkey.

“We weren’t even the first ones here,” Clark said. “There was already a line."

Robinson and Clark were two of about 200 people who lined up early Wednesday morning to receive a free turkey and “fixin bag” at the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries on 1st Avenue in Hickory.

The ministry partnered with area supermarket chain Galaxy Food Stores, which committed to donate a 10- to 12-pound turkey to the needy for every $10 donated “fixin bag” purchased at its stores.

After two months of donations, Galaxy amassed about 640 turkeys and “fixin bags” to donate. Officials say donations are still pouring in, and they expect to give out 800 dinners by the end of the holiday season.

“I’m very thankful to have this. This is all right,” Robinson said after receiving his turkey and “fixin bag” on Wednesday. “It’s going to be good. Somebody’s going to cook it, but it’s probably not going to be me.”

By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, about 250 people had already picked up their free turkey.

Galaxy Food Stores Owner Ricky Knighton said the turkey dinners that aren’t given away will be saved for a Christmas giveaway.

“It’s a real thrill to do this and help out the community,” Knighton said. “It’s pretty special."

Galaxy participated in a turkey giveaway last year for local churches, but Knighton said they wanted to expand the program this year because the need spiked. He said he’s had a 100 percent increase from last year in requests for food donations.

“We’ve seen a tremendous spike in customers using food stamps this year,” Knighton said. “We thought we should help out the increasing number of people suffering unemployment.”

A line of people stretched around the ministry’s rear loading dock on Wednesday waiting for a free turkey and Thanksgiving meal. Men, women, parents and children all took a “fixin bag” and then a turkey from Galaxy store managers and officials.

“Thank you,” most said.

Taylor Ward and Dylan Cody are two Troop 234 Boy Scouts from Hickory.

The 12-year-old boys helped pass out turkeys on Wednesday during their day off from school.

“It feels good to give to people, and it’s not actually as hard as I thought it would be,” Dylan said as he stacked empty boxes that held the turkeys.

Dylan and Taylor said they are spending Thanksgiving with their families this year. They said helping out at the ministry makes them thankful for what they have.

“Stuffing is my favorite part about Thanksgiving, and spending time with family as well,” Dylan said.