“Unprecedented” Thanksgiving turkey shortage at Midstate shelters

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away now, and a local shelter is seeing what they call an “unprecedented” shortage of turkeys. They’re asking for your help to help the less fortunate have a holiday meal.

Those at the Bethesda Mission say this is something they’ve never seen before. They want to make sure those in need have a warm plate of food on Thanksgiving and something to be thankful for despite their situations.

“Normally there should be turkeys coming right to the edge of where the door is,” said Chuck Wingate, executive director of the Bethesda Mission.

There aren’t enough turkeys for the homeless and less fortunate to gobble up. Only a few dozen turkeys are in the walk-in freezer, but the Bethesda Mission needs about 500.

“A couple of the grocery store chains have said they’re not going to give turkeys away, and that may be a factor,” Wingate said.

Wingate believes some other reasons could be the economy and people not donating this year.

“These shelves aren’t supposed to have spaces on them, and empty shelves are bad thing for us,” Wingate said.

Turkeys aren’t the only issue. The shelter has one can of yams and is short on canned vegetables and cranberry sauce.

Stephen Beers and his service dog Brooklyn are staying at the Bethesda Mission and hope to get a Thanksgiving meal.

“I’ll be grateful, whatever donations we get for whatever meals we’ll be able to have that day,” Beers said.

“It’s not just eating a meal,” Wingate said. “There are people who are feeling like they belong with folks that are around them, so that sense of family, that sense of community where nobody should be alone.”

Stephen and Brooklyn became homeless waiting for his disability payments. Brooklyn, an eight-year-old Collie-Red Heeler mix, saved his life during a seizure.

“Not every homeless person is a bum, or a wino, or a drug addict, or anything like that,” Beers said. “Some people actually do have real-life problems.”

Lifepath Christian Ministries, formerly the York Rescue Mission, is also seeing a turkey shortage this year.

You can drop off turkeys at the Bethesda Mission’s Men Shelter, 611 Reilly Street, in Harrisburg. Canned goods can be dropped of there or at any M&T Bank location. The Bethesda Mission is currently in the middle of a food drive to collect 75,000 pounds of food.

You can donate turkeys to Lifepath Christian Ministries at 367 West Market Street, in York.

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