While Shane Bowlin’s wife was recovering from a gallbladder surgery last week, he found out he was fired from his job.
The family turned to the Missoula Food Bank for the first time, not expecting to have a Thanksgiving turkey this year.
But a local radio station is working to help people like the Bowlins have a Thanksgiving dinner.
Cherry Creek Radio and Z100 aim to fill a refrigerated semi-trailer with turkeys by the end of the week. The radio station asked its listeners to donate turkeys to help food banks in the Bitterroot Valley during the holidays.
“It will save our Thanksgiving,” Jeri Bowlin said.
Chris Wolfe and Brian Lee, radio hosts at Z100, are helping to collect the donations.
This is the 19th year the radio station will host the Guerrilla Turkey Drive. They hope to collect anywhere from 500 to 1,000 turkeys, Wolfe said.
“We just try to take a week of our broadcast time and our energy and focus it toward doing something good for the community,” Wolfe said.
The drive started Monday and ends on Friday, Nov. 22. The station distributes the turkeys to food banks in Missoula, Darby, Superior, Stevensville and Hamilton.
People can also donate money to the drive, which goes toward the food banks' purchase of turkeys.
“The food banks have a buying power that we don’t, so cash donations go a long way,” Wolfe said.
Jessica Allred, community relations director at the Missoula Food Bank, said the Missoula Food Bank helps 5,000 people a year have a Thanksgiving dinner.
They buy a lot of their turkeys because they get them for about a dollar per pound.
“Turkey is one of the most expensive things we buy, but when people are struggling, those comforts help,” Allred said.
In its first four hours the drive collected 50 turkeys.
“That’s more than we’ve ever had at the very beginning of doing this in the past 19 years,” Wolfe said.
The food banks serve anyone in need. Most of those people are facing unexpected expenses like medical bills, car repair bills or are out of work, Lee said.
“With all the other trials and tribulations on somebody’s shoulders, maybe just for that one day they can take a break,” Lee said.
Missoula residents are also donating to Can the Cats to help stock the Missoula Food Bank during the holidays.
Can the Cats has taken some donations from the turkey drive over the past couple years, said Wolfe, but he is just glad the community is donating.
“For us it’s not a competition,” he said. “For us it’s trying to feed the hungry.”