Two local food pantries collected and gave away more than 500 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners this week.
Farmer Food Bank at First Presbyterian Church in Van Buren and Alma Community Outreach collected donations of turkeys and money at the Walmart locations in Van Buren and Alma Nov. 21.
About 500 donated turkeys and turkeys purchased with money donated during the event were given away in only two days, said John Starks, director for Farmer Food Bank.
"We have either given [only] turkeys or [entire] food boxes to nearly 300 people already," Starks said Tuesday afternoon.
Starks said 152 turkeys were collected at the Walmart event, and they were able to purchase another 150 turkeys with the money donated.
Farmer Food Bank had about 20 turkeys left at the time, which Starks said would be given away Wednesday morning.
Ed Thicksten, who volunteers with Alma Community Outreach, said their turkeys were gone by noon Nov. 22.
Alma Community Outreach collected enough turkeys and money to give away 201 turkeys for Thanksgiving, Thicksten said.
Alma’s pantry closed at noon Nov. 22 with five people getting food boxes, but no turkey, and another 30 waiting outside.
"We had a lot of vegetables, we had a lot of canned goods, we had eggs, but unfortunately we didn’t have any more turkeys," Thicksten said, but added that those who did not get turkeys "got a lot of other stuff."
Many items that packed food boxes at both pantries this week were traditional for the Thanksgiving holiday, Starks and Thicksten said.
About 1,800 turkeys were collected regionally for the Walmart event, Starks said, including Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley, which would mean Crawford County alone donated nearly 28 percent of the turkeys.
Starks said that makes him proud.
"It made several people’s Thanksgiving, obviously," Starks said. "Crawford County takes care of its own."
And some of those who get the extra help may be the ones helping later on.
One woman who donated at the Alma Walmart said she had relied on food pantries in the past and wanted to return the favor, Thicksten said.
"It struck me that, hey, you can help people come out of something that may be temporary and help them come back and be a productive part of the citizenry," Thicksten said.
Farmer Food Bank is located at 108 S. 10th St. in Van Buren and Alma Community Outreach is at 117 Arkansas 162.
For more information, call Farmer Food Bank at (479) 474-2375 or Alma Community Outreach at (479) 414-9218.