Turkeys by the thousands help Delaware families in need

 

: Norman Oliver hugs a turkey inside the Milford Boys & Girls Club of Delaware as Mayor Archie Campbell, his wife Ronnie and others look on during Tuesdays Turkey giveaway event. (The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik)

MILFORD — Thanksgiving was made a little easier for 6,000 families Tuesday thanks to a statewide turkey giveaway organized by “Stormin’” Norman Oliver.

The event, now in its 36th years, began on a much smaller scale when Mr. Oliver began serving holiday meals to four homeless men he met underneath a bridge in Wilmington.

Years later, his efforts span the state with its largest goal yet due, in part, to partnerships with Food Lion, the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware and other local churches and organizations which help share his love of service within their own communities.

“For more than three decades, Our Youth Inc. and Nor Enterprises have fed thousands of families and seniors for the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Mr. Oliver. “This year we were able to take this effort statewide again because of the support of numerous companies and organizations and especially our lead sponsor Food Lion for their continued support of this event and their commitment to feed our families in Delaware. Each year the number of supporters continues to grow …”

Milford Mayor Archie Campbell, several council members and Tod Van Eyken, director of Milford’s Boys & Girls Club, were on hand Tuesday when the giveaway arrived at the Milford location.

Tod Van Eyken of the Milford Boys & Girls Club of Delaware said he would take a photo of every turkey that left the giveaway Tuesday, even the ones headed for dinner plates. (The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik)

“At the end of the day, we try to make life a little bit easier for our parents. That includes having the kids’ homework done and other tasks. And we can say it with a turkey, too. Cross this off the list, we’ve got it taken care of,” Mr. Van Eyken said.

Latisha Horsey, who has worked the event in the Milford location for five years now, said she sees why it is needed every year.

“A lot of families are not able to buy a turkey for themselves, or even have any kind of Thanksgiving dinner. Now, it feels like they can thanks to this giveaway,” she said.

Children in need at the Milford Boys & Girls Club were given a turkey when they were picked up by a family member, but not before one simple task: a photo.

Milford City Manager Eric Norenberg, Director of the Milford Boys & Girls Club of Delaware Tod Van Eyken, newly elected Representative Bryan Shupe, Milford Mayor Archie Campbell, event organizer Norman Oliver, Vice Mayor Doug Morrow and Council Member Todd Culotta were all present for the gifting of turkeys Tuesday when the giveaway reached Milford. (The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik.)

“I take a picture of every turkey. And you’re my turkey,” Mr. Van Eyken said as he joked with a child Tuesday afternoon.

“We thank ‘Stormin’’ Norman for his dedication. It’s good to feed the people, and we’re happy to be here to support that,” Mayor Campbell said.

Sponsors and supporters of the giveaway include, but are not limited to, Food Lion, the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware, the Farnan Law Firm, the Jefferson Awards Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, Duffield Associates, Charter School of Wilmington Jefferson Council, Leroy A. Tice Esquire, P.A., Breakthru Beverage Delaware, The Buccini/Pollin Group, EDIS, Red Clay Consolidated School District, Christina School District, United HealthCare, St. Elizabeth School, Connections, Community Presbyterian Church, The Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, United Way of Delaware, Sonny & Pam Vaccaro, JFK Entertainment, Duffy’s Hope, The Masons, Dependable Construction, Delaware State University, Smyrna High School Marching Band, Seaford High School Marching Band, The Monday Club, Jobs For Delaware Graduates, Hanifa Shabazz, Bill West, David Genshaw, Robin Christiansen, Archie Campbell, Justine King, Michael Purzycki, Nicole Poore, John Carney, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Stephanie Hall-Long, Matt Meyer, Tom Carper, Chris Coons, Wilmington City Police, New Castle County Police and the Delaware State Police, according to Mr. Oliver.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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