Project Thanksgiving Now Collecting Turkeys

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On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a national Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. Each year, communities nationwide give thanks for their blessings and freedoms.

Many will again help needy friends and neighbors throughout Cumberland County, as thousands of families continue to face uncertain futures.

Project Thanksgiving 2017 For the ninth year, Project Thanksgiving and the Salvation Army of Vineland/Millville and Bridgeton will jointly distribute turkeys countywide this Saturday, November 18.

The Gloucester County community turkey drive supports the Food Bank of South Jersey.

Longtime friends Alex Kaganzev and Steve Plevins are again leading Project Thanksgiving. Their combined years of experience working with disadvantaged populations within New Jersey’s state government has helped them succeed.

Kaganzev initially contacted Plevins in 2009 to help organize a grassroots Cumberland County turkey drive that replicated a successful Philadelphia campaign.

Called Project Thanksgiving for South Jersey, they collected 330 turkeys that first year.

We’ll again approach our friends and neighbors, seeking help in providing Thanksgiving meals to as many families as possible.

Maria Bottino, owner of three local ShopRites, DJ Steve Tatz of Cruisin’ 92.1FM WVLT radio, and Joe McCluskey, Lincoln ShopRite (in Vineland) manager, were their first supporters.

Project Thanksgiving expanded into Gloucester County in 2012. Valued at $20 per turkey, Kaganzev says, “We face continued challenges this year. A recent report states Cumberland is New Jersey’s second poorest county and Bridgeton is its poorest city. We’ll again approach our friends and neighbors, seeking help in providing Thanksgiving meals to as many families as possible.

Related: Donations for 'Operation Christmas Child' Now Being Accepted

“We appreciate our numerous volunteers and sponsors’ continuous dedication and generosity. After nine years, Project Thanksgiving remains a voluntary grass-roots organization. A special thanks to the Bottinos, who have donated at least 100 frozen turkeys annually and offered their stores as collection sites.”

Plevins agrees, saying, “While developing the program’s blueprint, we needed early supporters like Maria. Project Thanksgiving appreciates these sponsors who offer their time, resources and employees.”

Twelve collection location sites will accept turkeys and monetary donations this year. Cumberland County venues include the three Bottino ShopRites—West Landis Avenue in Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton. Other Vineland sites are the Sun Valley Pools/Fan Zone headquarters facility, Todd’s News Agency, Sir Speedy and ShopRite at Lincoln and Landis avenues.

In Gloucester County, the Bottinos’ Sewell store will also collect turkeys. The Ammons family, additional ShopRite owners, will accept in-store donations in Mullica Hill.

In addition to a $1,000 donation to Project Thanksgiving, Franklin Bank has designated its Franklinville and Woolwich Township branches as drop-off contribution sites.

“I’m pleased to see that businesses like Franklin Bank are stepping up to help in Gloucester County,” says Kaganzev. “Many families confront financial burdens and we must collaborate to help them.”

One change this year is that the Mullica Hill Amish Market will accept donations only this Friday, November 17, from 2 to 5 p.m.  Logistics required this day/date scheduling.

Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT on-air personalities will interview pageant winners this Saturday, November 18. Pearl Giordano will speak with both Miss Vineland, Jada Morgan, and International Inspirational Queen Rylee Howertown, from 10 to 10:30 a.m.

“Jacks are Better” host Jack Hummel will later interview Miss Columbus Day Julia Magill, Miss Cumberland County Sarah Pepitone, and Miss South Jersey Jessica Indio, during his noon to 1 p.m. slot.

Kaganzev says, “We appreciate WVLT general manager Carl Hemple providing this tremendous exposure.”

Throughout the day on Saturday, multiple local area beauty pageant winners will appear at these sites:

  • Miss Vineland (Jada Morgan) and International Inspirational Queen Rylee Howertown (appearing together): Bridgeton ShopRite (11-11:45 a.m.); Millville ShopRite (12:15-1 p.m.); Bridgeton ShopRite-second appearance (1:30-2:15 p.m.)
  • Miss Cumberland County (Sarah Pepitone): Bridgeton ShopRite (10-10:30 a.m.); Millville ShopRite (11-11:30 a.m.); Millville ShopRite-second appearance (1:30-2:15 p.m.)
  • Miss Gloucester County (Hannah Vendetta) and Outstanding Teen Gabriela Collins:Mullica Hill ShopRite (10 a.m.-10:45 a.m.); Sewell ShopRite (11:15 a.m.-12 p.m.)
  • Miss Columbus Day (Julia Magill): Sewell ShopRite (10-10:30 a.m.); Mullica Hill ShopRite (11-11:30 a.m.)
  • Miss South Jersey (Jessica Indio): Sewell ShopRite (1:30-2:15 p.m.); Mullica Hill ShopRite (2:45-3:30 p.m.)
  • To further increase community exposure, some pageant winners recorded a Public Service Announcement (PSA), scripted by Kaganzev’s friend George Scully, at the Calvary Chapel of Vineland’s in-house radio station, WPOV-LP, The Vine 107.7 FM.

DJ Joe Gorgo assisted another pageant winner in recording a PSA to air on his Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT 7 p.m.-9 p.m. program, “The Original Sunday Night Oldies Show.”

Those requesting turkeys should apply through their local Salvation Army chapter. Majors Miguel and America Barriera manage the Vineland/Millville branch; Lieutenants Sergo and Edelyne Lalanne head the Bridgeton branch.

“The Food Bank of South Jersey and Salvation Army pledge fiscal responsibility,” says Kaganzev. “Approximately 90 percent of all contributions support their mission of serving the less fortunate.”

To contribute, bring a turkey, supermarket certificate or donation to the above-listed locations from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. this Saturday. Each Cumberland County location will have a Salvation Army collection table. They will accept cash or check donations—payable to the Salvation Army—in their trademark red kettles. (Mark “Project Thanksgiving” in the check’s memo space; label turkeys as “Project Thanksgiving” contributions.)

The Vineland/Millville Salvation Army center freezers can accommodate daily donations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 733 E. Chestnut Ave. in Vineland.

Gloucester County sites will accept frozen turkeys, cash and checks, designated to the Food Bank of South Jersey. These locations will have a Food Bank of South Jersey table. For more information, call Kaganzev (609-774-2499) or Plevins (856-558-3825). Get the latest updates on by searching Project Thanksgiving NJ.

Read: Moo-ving Forward: Cumberland Dairy Continues Legacy with Dairy Farmers of America

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