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This turkey giveaway is a holiday tradition for Utah’s Gov. Herbert

SHARE This turkey giveaway is a holiday tradition for Utah’s Gov. Herbert

SALT LAKE CITY — For more than 20 years, volunteers with the Crossroads Urban Center have handed out turkeys with all the trimmings for a complete holiday meal to those in need a few days before Christmas.

For about 14 of those years, Gov. Gary Herbert has been one of these volunteers.

Saturday morning he manned the turkey giveaway station at Rowland Hall Middle School, handing each family or individual who came through a frozen turkey from the Utah Food Bank.

"It's the last part when they leave, and so it's an opportunity to say 'Merry Christmas' to people," Herbert said.

"Let's have a New Year's resolution that we all will find opportunities to serve others. People are hungry, not just on Thanksgiving or Christmas," he said. "Three hundred sixty-five days a year there's people in need out there that we ought to step up and try to find and to help."

Bags of food wait to be picked up as Crossroads Urban Center distributes turkeys and all the trimmings for a complete holiday meal at Rowland Hall on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.

Bags of food wait to be picked up as Crossroads Urban Center distributes turkeys and all the trimmings for a complete holiday meal at Rowland Hall on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Pamela Atkinson, a well-known Salt Lake philanthropist, homeless advocate and advisor to the governor, was at the school helping to guide recipients to the right place to get their Christmas dinner staples.

She also urged Utahns to give year-round. Anything from buying an extra bag of groceries or toiletries every shopping trip to finding volunteer opportunities by calling 211, every little thing makes a big difference, she said.

Atkinson keeps new socks and underwear in the trunk of her car, she said, so when she sees a homeless person she can give them something.

"A small amount of caring just makes a huge difference," she said.

About 800 people received food from the event, Crossroads Executive Director Glenn Bailey estimated.

The holiday food offerings included turkeys, pies, yams, potatoes, fruit and canned vegetables. There was also donated clothing for those in need of coats or other cold weather gear.

Guests exit after receiving their food as Crossroads Urban Center distributes turkeys and all the trimmings for a complete holiday meal at Rowland Hall on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.

Guests exit after receiving their food as Crossroads Urban Center distributes turkeys and all the trimmings for a complete holiday meal at Rowland Hall on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Jessica Hunter was able to pick out a few items for her three children, who accompanied her from Kearns on the bus.

"It's actually really nice that they have programs like this to help," she said. She was excited to share a Christmas dinner with her family.

Brothers Scott and Doug Briggs said that even though the holidays can be a hard time when money is tight, they still enjoy it by spending it with family. Doug Briggs is especially fond of seeing Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music.

"It doesn't matter if you don't have money," Scott said.

Volunteers said they get a lot out of the event as well.

Kiwanis Club member Michael Bennett has volunteered for about eight annual turkey giveaways with Crossroads, and has brought a few grandkids with him each time.

"I'm most excited to bring my grandkids and have them have the experience of serving others," he said. "Feel the happiness and the joy you get from helping others."

Janel Trapp also brought her kids to volunteer, where they registered food recipients as they entered the school.

"I feel very fortunate," she said. "Food is a big part of my family's life. I come from a restaurant family, and I realized the value of everyone that deserves a good food and a good meal."