Gobble for a Cause

Kowalski’s and WBAEFS team up to put turkeys on the table.

Without a savory turkey dinner accompanied by a healthy helping of cranberries, stuffing and buttery mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving just isn’t the same. And two local entities want to make sure everyone has that same experience.

For the second year in a row, the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf (WBAEFS) and Kowalski’s Market will host the Give-a-Gobble Turkey Drive, which begins the third week in October and runs until the packaging and disbursement of the Thanksgiving meal, this year scheduled for November 21. And this spirit of giving goes beyond just one significant day in November.

Since 1977, WBAEFS has been a resource for families in need, providing grocery items, including dry goods, milk, eggs, meat, and fresh and frozen produce. Families make an appointment with the food shelf and come in during the week to shop for items for their household. According to Andréa Kish-Bailey, executive director, the organization feeds 545 families each month, or about 22 families every day.

Kish-Bailey believes the additional outreach effort of the Give-a-Gobble event is a way for White Bear Lake residents to learn about ongoing, as well as unexpected, needs in the area. “The drive has created awareness of the need in our community, and provided a way for others to support their neighbors during a trying time,” Kish-Bailey says.

When Kish-Bailey approached store manager Boyd Oase last year about the Give-a-Gobble drive, he was quickly on board with the plan. “You don’t really see on a day-to-day basis what the community needs, and it’s eye-opening to see that there’s a lot of people out there who greatly benefit from what the food shelf does,” says Oase.

Family-owned Ferndale Markets of Cannon Falls contributes 100 percent natural, free-range turkeys to the drive. “It was important to me that even though we could have gone with a more conventionally raised turkey to cut the cost down, what Kowalski’s is known for is good, healthy foods that might cost a little more money but [are] wholesome and natural, so it’s important that we went that direction,” Oase explains.

In the weeks preceding the actual event, Kowalski’s collects donations from shoppers for the drive in denominations of $10, $25 or $50. All the proceeds from the drive cover the food cost of the holiday meals.

Last year, community members, food shelf staff, volunteers and Kowalski’s employees arrived at the WBAEFS to help bag the meals, which served 300 families turkey, cranberries, stuffing, salad, potatoes, carrots and, of course, fresh-baked pie to complete a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

How you can help:

Donate at Kowalski’s during the Give-a-Gobble Turkey Drive or online.

Volunteer at the WBAEFS (2 hours per shift).

Sponsor a food drive—details online at the website here.