Here’s your chance to give our editor the bird … and help out a worthy cause in Sonoma County

The Press Democrat’s editor challenges the community to donate to his inaugural holiday turkey drive, and in return he’ll dig deep into his own pocket.|

In the newspaper business you tend to ruffle some feathers. So much so that some of you have been wanting to give me the bird for a while.

Here’s your chance.

But, first a little background.

The Press Democrat’s Interim Executive Editor John D'Anna (The Press Democrat file)
The Press Democrat’s Interim Executive Editor John D'Anna (The Press Democrat file)

As I write this, Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. And while we here in Sonoma County have much to be thankful for, there are, unfortunately, a lot of people who aren’t so lucky.

Last year, our friends at the Redwood Empire Food Bank served more than 100,000 unique individuals. That’s almost 1 out of every four people in our communities who suffered from food insecurity at some time in the last year. Which is a fancy way of saying there are a lot of people among us who are in danger of going hungry.

And a lot of them are kids. Kids who go to bed with growling stomachs every night. Kids who have a harder time learning. Kids who have a harder time staying healthy because they’re not getting proper nutrition. Kids who will have a harder time reaching their potential.

Redwood Empire Food Bank does great work, but the demands on their services have only increased since the pandemic has eased. That means the need is growing. And they could use our help.

So here’s where the part about giving me the bird comes in.

In the old days newspapers used to hold turkey drives over the holidays. When I pitched the food bank’sRachelle Mesheau on the idea, the turkey part gave her pause. Turns out there’s simply no way to provide a turkey for every family that would like to have one. Often, they’ll have to substitute chicken or another staple. Still they do their best to ensure everyone gets food on their holiday table.

While I can appreciate Rachelle’s concerns, I’m going to call this a turkey drive anyway, because “give the editor the meatloaf” doesn’t quite have the same cache as giving me the bird.

And speaking of the old days, people used to donate actual frozen turkeys, but for the purposes of our drive, your $25 tax-deductible donation will count as one turkey. Trust me it’s better that way. First, it’s easier for you — just a couple of clicks and you’re done. Second, because of the food bank’s economies of scale, they can buy three times more food with that $25 than we could as individuals. And lastly, it avoids the problem of random people showing up at the newsroom with frozen turkeys. Lord knows the person who works at our front desk has enough to deal with.

Anyway, so here’s how it’s going to work. Think of it like an NPR challenge grant but without the annoying pledge week blah, blah blah. We’re going to set a modest goal of raising 400 turkeys over the holidays. That’s $10,000 for the food bank between now and Christmas.

If we make it, I’ll personally donate 40 turkeys.

So dear readers, I’m hoping you’ll cost me a bundle. And the sooner we meet our goal, the less you’ll have to deal with my follow-up columns, which come to think of it, might be only slightly less annoying than NPR pledge week.

All you have to do is follow this link to my page at the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and give me the bird.

John D’Anna is the interim executive editor of The Press Democrat.

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