Aurora Family Service preserves a holiday tradition for 3,000 local families
In a year that has seen families struggle to maintain a semblance of stability in the midst of economic upheaval, Aurora Family Service's Family-to-Family Thanksgiving is a dramatic reminder that to survive the harshest of times, we need to come together as a community. Now in its sixteenth year, over 600 volunteers and donors came together to make sure 3,000 families would have a real turkey dinner on the table this Thanksgiving.
Planning began in early summer, when the order for 3,000 turkeys - the equivalent of six SUVs in weight - along with stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, bread, butter, and roasting pans was placed. In early fall, 112 community organizations began to identify the families they know are facing a Thanksgiving without the usual "fixings" - many this year for the first time. These same partners also became part of the extensive delivery team on Monday before Thanksgiving, as food "baskets" and frozen turkeys were distributed, timed just right for a thawed bird on Thursday morning.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, over 150 volunteers from Deloitte, Quarles & Brady, the Girl Scouts, and Marquette University High School sorted cans and packed grocery bags at the Aurora Family Services offices on Highland Boulevard to be ready for the Monday distribution.
Photo caption: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett welcomes some of our special guests to the Family-to-Family Thanksgiving event.
At 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, a semi-trailer truck with 3,000 frozen turkeys, bread and butter arrived, and the next eleven hours saw Aurora caregivers creatively bundle bags and birds into small cars, makeshift carts, and eager hands. By 7pm, all that remained was a 5-foot stack of broken down cardboard boxes and a few leftover vegetable cans.
Because of the massive volunteer effort, all of the donations received for Family-to-Family went directly to purchasing food. Employee campaigns at Quarles & Brady, Deloitte, Management Research Services, MGIC, Johnson Controls and Aurora Health Care raised significant dollars. Substantial corporate support was also given by Joy Global, Foley & Lardner, the Parks Consulting Group at Graystone Consulting, HGA Architects and Curtis Ambulance. The remaining support came from individual donors whose generous gifts help make this event possible year after year.
Tough economic times have demanded that families sacrifice so much just to eat and stay warm, but going without at the holiday is particularly painful. A day, a bag of groceries and a helping hand does make a difference and more importantly, gives hope.
As one recipient said "it is wonderful to know that another family cares enough to make this happen for my family. And when I can, I will do the same for someone else."
Photo caption: Each feather on the turkey represents one family that was fed through Quarles & Brady employees' donations. We're very grateful to see such generous giving from our sponsors.