Around Rim Country this Thanksgiving, just about everyone had a chance to savor a full belly of turkey.
Payson residents of all ages gave generously this year to help those in need, opening up their wallets, dinner tables and hearts — from the elementary schools, to the service clubs to the food banks.
The cutest fund-raisers turned out at Julia Randall Elementary School. Not only did they deliver more than 1,000 cans of food to local food banks, they set a world record to boot.
JRE’s Fit Kids Council and Student Council sponsored a canned food drive for St. Vincent de Paul while also preparing for the World Record of Speed Stacking, explained Donna Moore, physical education specialist at JRE.
On Nov. 15, after several weeks of practice, JRE was one of hundreds of groups that helped set the record, which involved people in 26 countries simultaneously stacking cups for 30 minutes.
JRE verified for the “Guinness Book of World Records” that 442 students had participated, helping reach the worldwide goal of 450,000 cups.
“It looks like JRE will again be part of a new world record,” Moore said. “Along with the speed stacking world record, the kids collected more than 1,300 cans of food and delivered them to the food bank to assure families in Payson have a happy Thanksgiving.”
Across town at Bashas’, residents donated hundreds of turkeys Tuesday, ensuring more than 300 of their struggling neighbors could have a Thanksgiving feast.
St. Vincent’s annual Turkey Tuesday food box giveaway draws a long line at the small food bank off South St. Phillips Street.
Food bank manager Michael Haines said they couldn’t serve all those in need without the community’s donations.
Steve Coury Ford of Star Valley got in on the act, donating the use of trucks so Haines could pick up 150 turkeys from the Valley St. Vincent.
Haines said his own pickup could never have made it up the hill with 2,400 pounds of food in tow.
Haines said he also could not have organized Turkey Tuesday without the help of volunteers. Several dozen arrived early Tuesday to collect donations at Bashas’ and fix up Thanksgiving boxes, which included everything you would need for a feast, including canned cranberry sauce.
Just hours before the turkey boxes went out the doors Tuesday, the Central Arizona Board of Realtors arrived with a welcome surprise — a $1,000 check to St. Vincent.
Clark Jones, CABOR 2013 president-elect and Jennifer Kiley, vice president, said the money had come from member dues.
James Bridges, co-president of Payson St. Vincent, said every dollar and can helps, especially when serving people scattered across 2,400 square miles.
Other donors this year included Bank of America, which recently gave St. Vincent a $5,000 grant after volunteer Jim Carroll put in an application, the Knights of Columbus and Crabdree Insurance.