Turkey Donations Drop This Thanksgiving Season

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Charities from coast to coast are having trouble collecting what is usually the centerpiece of the American Thanksgiving meal -- the turkey.

"This year has been really tough," said Greta Walker, a spokeswoman for the Denver Rescue Mission in Colorado. "We started the drive on November 1 and about 10 days into it, we had zero turkeys.  And I started to get really worried."

Two factors have contributed to fewer turkey donations this year. 

First, turkeys are more expensive than last year. On the average, a turkey costs 20 percent more than it did just one year ago. 

Secondly, the economic conditions are so bad that people who normally donate are not able to do so this year.

"Everybody within their own families is trying to scrape and save and I think it's a little bit harder," said Sandy Harvath, who along with her colleagues, decided to donate 25 of the festive birds.

Charities remain determined to feed what they expect will be high numbers of needy people sitting at their Thanksgiving tables this year. If donations don't come through, they'll have to buy the turkeys and the trimmings themselves with money designated for other programs.

"When turkey donations are down, it means we can't provide the same kind of services we normally provide in the community services for seniors, homeless, children, victims of domestic violence," explained Allison Kuthy of Volunteers of America.

So, with many mouths to feed and less food being donated, charities around the country are praying for a last-minute miracle.

*Originally published Nov. 16, 2010. 

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