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Don Percy, a Laconia volunteer, loads food donated to New Horizons Food Pantry during the annual Tons of Turkeys drive Saturday at Hannaford on John Devine Drive in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Manchester opens hearts, wallets for Tons of Turkeys


MANCHESTER - Christine Hobbs stood in the morning chill Saturday outside New Horizons soup kitchen waiting to receive a frozen turkey with all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving dinner she wouldn't otherwise have this year.

"I'd be eating some baloney or ham or hamburger," said the Manchester woman, who lives on nearby Merrimack Street.

Hobbs has stood in line each of the past four years for a helping hand around Thanksgiving.

"I only come here when I need to," said the woman, who is disabled and can't work. "The line is way longer than I've seen in the last few years.

Hobbs and about 1,200 families are the recipients of donated turkeys from Saturday's annual Tons of Turkeys food drive, which the New Hampshire Union Leader co-sponsors.

The efforts help people, including Ken and Joanne Leavitt, who waited in line, too, for their holiday meal.

"We're very thankful and thankful for all who do this," Mrs. Leavitt said.

The Manchester couple is sharing their bounty.

"We're having two other people over the house who can't afford it," Mr. Leavitt said.

Shoppers at six Hannaford stores in the Greater Manchester area on Saturday purchased turkeys, which were delivered to New Horizons for distribution. Shoppers for the past month could buy a box or bag of food for $10 that also went to recipients at New Horizons.

New Horizons Executive Director Charlie Sherman said the soup kitchen has been helping about 20 percent more people this year than last.

He expects 200 more families will receive Thanksgiving dinners compared with last year.

"People are really wonderful thinking of other families," said Sherman, who planned to visit all six stores Saturday.

The final tally: 22.5 tons of turkeys donated Saturday, compared with 20 tons last year.

At the Hannaford supermarket on John Devine Drive in Manchester, cashier/service leader Kelsy Fox of Hancock yelled poultry pronouncements from the checkout line.

"We have a turkey over here!" Fox said, sporting a hat topped with a foam turkey.

Donna Kablik, a special education teacher at Manchester High School Central, donated two turkeys totaling about 34 pounds.

"I like to give back," she said. "I remember when I was a waitress at the 99 (Restaurant). It was hard to make ends meet."

Radio station 96.5 FM, The Mill, offered live reports from each site.

Store manager Brian Hayes said customers had purchased about 1,150 boxes and bags at the John Devine store through Friday, "way ahead of last year."

His goal is 2,300 by Christmas, compared with 1,500 last year.

On Saturday morning, Dan Kierstead of Manchester donated three food boxes and two turkeys to the cause.

"I eat, so others should," he said at the checkout line. "We try every Thanksgiving and Christmas to give what we can."

mcousineau@unionleader.com

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