In 2008, a group of agents at Keller Williams Energy Real Estate in Oshawa, Ont. were sitting around wondering what they might be able to do to help others in the community. They came up with the idea to hold a holiday turkey dinner drive for people in need.
They went out to local vendors asking for donations to put together full turkey dinner hampers. They picked up all the dry goods (canned vegetables, stuffing, cranberries, candy canes, even a roasting pan and full dinner recipe) plus the frozen turkeys to assemble each of the hampers in a large box wrapped in a Christmas gift bag. That year, they packed 54 turkey dinners and handed them out from the parking lot of their offices.
Two of those agents, Jason Van Stiphout and Michael McDougall have continued to be integral to this endeavour, says broker Christina Arcangioli. But now, many agents and staff at the brokerage are involved. Over the years, the community need, the level of fundraising and the distribution of turkey dinners has continued to grow.
“This year for COVID 2020, we had a last-minute request for an extra 200 dinners,” says Arcangioli. “The fundraising was as successful as always and we were able to provide 2,208 turkey dinners for families in need. We raised more than $82,000 this year.”
A turkey task force works in the brokerage for months every year, preparing for the year-end event. They call recipients lists, order the food, arrange co-ordinated deliveries for the assembly and invite volunteers for the day when it all comes together.
“The assembly of the dinners started out in our training room years ago,” says Arcangioli. “Due to the volume of goods and turkeys, we have migrated to a nearby community centre. Using their gymnasium, we set up the dry goods and tables as an assembly line. Even our preferred vendors get involved supplying trucks to deliver all the goods to the community centre.
“Our agents involve their client database as well as many creative and fun ways to ask for help in achieving this feat. From touching base to ask our clients to support a family in need to Christmas markets, contests, raffles and many other events, we work feverishly as a large Keller Williams Energy family to bring this amazing endeavour together,” she says.
“A young boy with his mom picking up a dinner said, ‘Mom, we’ve never had a turkey dinner!’
Another mom called to sadly explain she had gone to the wrong address (another city) to pick up her dinner and now was too late. The dinners had all been handed out. This mom had three children, had just lost her husband to cancer and was now dealing with cancer herself. One of our founding members asked where she lived, went out and purchased all the food plus some gifts for the family and delivered to her door. Our agent will never forget the gratifying experience of making that family’s Christmas,” says Arcangioli.