SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's hard to believe that it's just over two-and-a-half weeks to go until Thanksgiving.
Springfield's Open Pantry is working to make sure no family in need is left behind. However, the emergency pantry's program director said right now, with the clock ticking, they do not have a single turkey to hand out and needs the public's help.
Open the freezers at Springfield's Open Pantry's emergency pantry, not a turkey to be found.
"As of now, we have none. We have zero turkeys," said program director Annie Rennix.
That's a problem, Rennix said, considering last year, they provided a Thanksgiving dinner to a record number of families in need and more are expected this year.
"Last year, we gave out over 600 turkeys to families, families of one or more, but there was still a need. We still had people, families, they wanted turkeys, needed turkeys. They had no turkeys, but we just didn't have any to give out," Rennix explained.
Donations of some of the trimmings are starting to come in, but Rennix said it's a drop in the bucket. A Thanksgiving meal is just one small part of what the pantry offers to western Massachusetts residents in need.
Last year, they distributed more than a million tons of food. This year, they're on pace to surpass that number. To help, the Open Pantry is getting ready for its eighth annual 'Stuffing the Pantry' event held early Thanksgiving morning.
"Every penny comes back to Open Pantry and helps them run their emergency food pantry, which is the main focus right now for this fundraising endeavor," said Stephen Penna with Open Pantry.
Open Pantry board member Stephen Penna told Western Mass News so far, the 5k road race and two-mile walk held in East Longmeadow has raised nearly $200,000. Close to a thousand people showed up last year. This year, they're hoping to beat that as the need continues to grow.
"Open Pantry Community Services has been in business for over 44 years and has really served our community of greater Springfield and there's still a tremendous need. Even with a good economy, there's still people struggling day-to-day particularly with food insecurity," Penna explained.
On average, 85 individuals and 145 families each day come to the emergency pantry for help. As many as 700 families are expected this year for help putting a Thanksgiving meal on the table.
"Many people might be down and out not have the financial means, but what they do have is family, so having that family at the dinner table is symbolic," Rennix said.
For more information on how to make a donation of a turkey, the trimmings, or a monetary donation in time for Thanksgiving - and on the 'Stuffing the Pantry' Thanksgiving morning event - CLICK HERE.