Bob Harlan

Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way Executive Director Bob Harlan in front of the nonprofit’s location on Butte House Road in Yuba City. The organization’s 13th annual Turkey Drive kicks off next week. 

For many, the holidays are a time for giving back and supporting the less fortunate in the community. An annual Turkey Drive has put food on the table for some of the area’s most-in- need families for over a decade, and organizers hope this year’s event can build on past successes.

The event, organized by the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way and Results Radio, is in its 13th year and sees local businesses chip in by collecting turkeys, hams and cash donations that are distributed to 18 local food closets, churches and agencies that provide holiday meals around the area.

Last year’s event saw residents from the three-county area donate 604 turkeys and hams, with cash donations exceeding $12,000 – all of which benefited an estimated 4,000 residents throughout the area. Bob Harlan, executive director of the local United Way, said organizers hope to reach that mark again this year.

“The need is huge. Approximately one out of every five families in the area is food insecure, meaning they don’t have enough food and don’t have the right kinds of food for proper nutrition,” Harlan said. “My favorite part of this event is seeing how our community responds to these types of needs. We’ve seen it countless times when there are local tragedies where the community really comes to the table on short notice to help out others.” 

All of the cash donations collected during the drive are used to buy more turkeys, hams and holiday foods that are distributed over the holidays.

“We certainly realize there are people who love to go buy turkeys while other people just like to give, so we provide a number of ways to give. If people want to buy a turkey but don’t want to make an extra trip to the store, they can go to our website, we will have collection buckets at all of our drop-off location, they can text TURKEYS to 41444 or call our office at 743-1847,” Harlan said.

Harlan has been the executive director for the organization’s local branch for the past 5  ears. The Turkey Drive is one of three non-monetary events put on by the United Way – the others being a cash for food drive and a community resource fair. Y-S-C United Way also organizes two big fundraisers every year – the Elegant Soiree and Golden Autumn Wine Festival.

“It’s all about helping people. We have 24 partner agencies that we help with funds, as well as this past year, we gave out $80,000 in community impact grants. We estimated that over 15,500 individuals are assisted through our partner agencies and community impact grant recipients,” Harlan said.

He said the nonprofit receives about 600 calls a year from community members in need of help. The biggest areas of need are with food and housing. The good news is that where the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa communities can assist, they do, he said. 

“I would say that despite the fact that we aren’t considered a rich community, we have a lot of people who are very giving,” he said. “We might not have the big corporations, but we do have a lot of very giving businesses and individuals in this community, and when they are asked for assistance, they don’t hesitate to help. Plus, we have excellent organization and service clubs that raise a lot of money for beneficial causes.”

The 13th annual Turkey Drive starts next week and runs to Nov. 23. For more information, visit www.yscunitedway.org. 

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