Hundreds of families will have turkeys on the table for Thanksgiving after Columbus police distributed free turkeys Monday at their Downtown headquarters and five precinct stations throughout the city.
Officers and residents from the area all had smiles on their faces as more than 120 turkeys were distributed in under 25 minutes outside Substation 5 on Cleveland Avenue in South Linden.
Debbie Walther, 55, of the South Linden area, said her daughter loved turkey, and that with the cost of food this year, the generosity of police and the organizations that contributed goes a long way.
“I just think it’s wonderful that they’re doing this,” Walther said. “I might even take some (turkey) down to the fire station.”
The turkeys for this year’s giveaway were made available by Columbus police in association with Wasco Wholesale Automotive Supplies, as well as partnerships with Giant Eagle, Byers Auto Group, the Columbus Police Foundation, Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corporation, and Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse.
People at the South Linden location seeking free turkeys formed a drive-through, with officers handing residents turkeys and gloves and pillows.
Within an hour, turkeys were gone across all the distribution locations. Lt. Justin Coleman said the Division of Police was happy to quickly and efficiently distribute turkeys amid a period of high inflation and rising food costs.
“Whatever people were doing, they’re able to go back to work and finish up their day,” Coleman said. “They’ve got some food to provide for everyone on Thursday.”
Chris Thomas, 30, said the free turkey he received will help him to have the first Thanksgiving family dinner since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
“It means a lot, to be able to see my family, help my daughter out, and see my mother and brother,” Thomas said. “Bring it back together.”
Some other recipients, Coleman said, were picking up free turkeys to bring to other people who couldn’t make it out to the distribution.
“Even if they weren’t able to provide for themselves, it sounds like people were trying to get things provided for others,” Coleman said.
Community liaison officers also set aside some turkeys and took them along with all the fixings to some of South Linden’s homebound residents.
Officers Alesia Zacher, Jim Parsons and Rodney Reed stopped by several homes along the way, spending some time with the residents to make sure they were still connected with resources like meal programs.
Elizabeth Alls, 74, was one of the South Linden residents visited by officers. She said it was a “blessing” that the officers were looking out for her during the holiday season.
“God always puts people in my life to help me here,” Alls said. “I’m blessed.”