It's almost turkey time.
Richard and Ruth Kneider, co-founders of Simple Dreams, are getting ready for the charity's annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway. Individuals or families who put in a request are given a turkey, 10 pounds of potatoes, a bag of vegetables, two boxes of stuffing and a pumpkin pie.
There are no eligibility requirements, catches or questions asked, but there is, in homage to the Stratford-based non-profit's name, one simple request.
“Our only stipulation is that you share it with somebody else,” Richard said Monday, just over three weeks away from turkey handout day. “Whether it's a neighbour, whether it's a friend, whether it's an acquaintance, somebody in your neighbourhood or somebody that might just be going through a difficult time that might not be able to have the opportunity to share a Thanksgiving meal at all.”
Last year Simple Dreams dished out 150 turkeys and fixings, feeding approximately 1,100 people, according to Richard. It's a rewarding experience for the organizers, who host several free community-based events on an annual basis such as last month's picnic in the park.
“Some of the stories that come out are pretty heartwarming in regards to some people going through some very difficult times and now they just want to pay it back,” he said. “Stratford's an incredible community and we're thankful that we're able to do the things that we do, and we couldn't do it without the support of people within the community.”
After reserving a meal by e-mailing or calling the Kneiders, the food will be available for pick up the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving Day – Oct. 5 – between 5 and 8 p.m. at Bethel Pentecostal Church. There will not be any deliveries.
Over the years meals have been given to organizations such as Choices For Change, Community Living Stratford and Area and Stratford House of Blessing. Simple Dreams has also fed entire apartment buildings.
In addition to bringing people together to break bread, there's a secondary goal: to spread thankfulness.
“It's pretty simple,” Richard said.
In the past, the turkeys were purchased from the No Frills in New Hamburg.
“We've done it for a number of years now and they've been very gracious,” he said.
But this year the plan is to buy from the Stratford location. Pies are also supplied from grocery stores while vegetables come from Cloverleaf Farms, also in New Hamburg, and the potatoes will be sourced from The Local Community Food Centre. Costs are covered with funds raised from Simple Dreams events such as Passport to Savings.
This is year seven for the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway.
“The whole concept of it is we want people to be able to share a Thanksgiving meal together,” he said.
It's grown over the years. Back in 2011 they served around 100 turkeys; this year it's capped at 150.
“We'll see what happens next year, if it's more than so be it,” he said.
Meals can be reserved by e-mailing [email protected] or calling 519-301-3659.
Meanwhile, the date has been set for Simple Dreams' 29th annual To Stratford with Love free Christmas dinner. It will be served on Dec. 16.