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Heimerman: Bird's the word during 'Let's Talk Turkey' event at Salvation Army

While fowls are focus, cash, other food accepted Friday

Bill Davey and Jackie Schairer of First State Bank in Sycamore drop off 10 turkeys Nov. 17, 2017, at The Salvation Army during the "Let's Talk Turkey" drive.
Bill Davey and Jackie Schairer of First State Bank in Sycamore drop off 10 turkeys Nov. 17, 2017, at The Salvation Army during the "Let's Talk Turkey" drive.

DeKALB – While the number of people registering for a Thanksgiving dinner from The Salvation Army is down a touch this year, the need is still great: Hundreds have signed up, said Rhonda Brown, social service director with The Salvation Army DeKalb Corps.

“Our numbers seem to be a little down this year, but it’s picked up this week,” she said. “It seems that more people are working now than a year ago.”

Despite that, not every job puts a family above the poverty line. Here’s where you and I come in. WLBK, on 98.9 FM and 1360 AM, will once again broadcast its “Let’s Talk Turkey” program from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, from The Salvation Army’s local headquarters at 830 Grove St., during which the bird donations will be delivered and discussed on the air.

Host TD Ryan said he, too, hasn’t gotten the typical feedback surrounding the event, but hopes it’s because of the economy’s upward curve.

“I hope that’s the reason those numbers are down,” he said.

You can donate a turkey, or other food or money, at the headquarters from 9 a.m. to
4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, as well as from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Thursday, while the food pantry is open, as well as from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays.

If your family lives below the poverty level, you can register by Saturday for a free meal during those same hours – although you’ll want to show up by 3 p.m. Thursday, so staff can get you registered before they close shop. You’ll need proof of your address and income.

Brown said about 500 families have registered, compared with about 600 who registered a year ago.

Gary Billings, who runs the food pantry, said donations are steadily coming in.

“I heard from somebody today from a construction company who’s dropping off 20 turkeys tomorrow,” he said, adding that every year during the live broadcast the DeKalb Fire Department drops off about 100 turkeys.

Ryan said it’s rewarding to envision people sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal who might not have otherwise had the means – and that the wave of donors who show up during the broadcast reflect that sentiment.

“Seeing people who give is so entertaining,” he said. “They really enjoy the process, and they’re so humble.”

He added that local churches take care of the side dishes, so the major emphasis is donations of turkeys.

“I’m pretty sure we’ve come really close every year to the number of turkeys we’ve needed,” he said.

However the magic happens, Brown said no family has been left wanting, to date.

“We’ve had enough every year, so far,” she said.

Ryan will be back in the fray Dec. 5 through 8 in the Hy-Vee parking lot, 2700 DeKalb Ave., for another food and cash drive: Freezing for Food.

For information on any of The Salvation Army programs, call 815-756-4308.

• Christopher Heimerman is the editor at the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at

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