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Adopt A Turkey 2003!

A holiday meal giveaway led by a father-son team, has fed more than 80,000 city residents in the last six years. On Saturday, November 22, 2003, they'll do it again.

"Our Family to Your Family Adopt a Turkey Program,” launched in 1997 by Richard A. Swirnow, Developer of the Inner Harbor properties called HarborView, and son David E. Swirnow, President of Swirnow Building Systems, distributes these Adopt-a-Turkey gifts to more than 40 non-profit organizations in a corporate-community effort to provide food relief to those in need.

Thanks to Swirnow company employees and more than three dozen non-profit groups and public agencies, 65,000 pounds of turkey dinners in 2,000 meal baskets will reach needy families this year.

Aunt Hattie's Place, Inc. is a lucky recipient of these dinners. “For the past two years,” states Cheryl Washington, Executive Director of this residential home for young boys in foster care, “the donations of turkeys and other trimmings from the Swirnow Foundation have helped Aunt Hattie's Place, Inc. to make Thanksgiving an enjoyable holiday for the young boys who live here."

Myrtle Summers, of Echo House Multi-Service Center says that the Adopt-a-Turkey program has helped to feed 100 families for the past three years. “If not for the generous support of Swirnow Building Systems,” these families would have gone without Thanksgiving dinner.”

Other recipients of these baskets include disabled, unemployed, and elderly residents, as well as lower-income families with young children. The agencies issue certificates to community representatives, who pick up and distribute the meals.

“For many Thanksgiving is a time of warm family gathering and good eating,” says Judy Western, Director of Children's Services at Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland. “But for families who have very limited resources the holiday just emphasizes how difficult their lives are.”

Included in each basket are a 14-15-pound turkey, 10 pounds of potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy mix, dinner rolls, and a pumpkin pie, conveniently packaged.

“The families who received the dinners last year were awed. The food was so plentiful and tasty,” added Western. “We at Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland applaud the efforts of the Smirnow company in helping many families celebrate Thanksgiving joyfully.”

For the first three years, the financial needs of “Our Family to Your Family Adopt a Turkey Program” were handled by the Swirnows. Their customers, vendors and friends found it a terrific opportunity to give back to their communities and quickly joined the cause. Jeff Shapiro, from Paragon Construction (the company building the HarborView Townhouses), and Ted Golobowski of Belfast Concrete were quick to help sponsor this program.

At the last minute, other helpers came through for “Our Family to Your Family Adopt a Turkey Program.” Special thanks to Brett and Amanda Austin of Cactus Willie's, as well Paragon and Belfast, for their generous-sized donation.

Food donations are staged at the Swirnow Building System warehouse, 2801 Sisson Street, and the HarborView warehouse, at 801 Key Highway, and will be distributed from those locations on Saturday, November 22. That morning, 2,000 volunteers will gather in McLean, Virginia to help Tom Wertz of Merrill Lynch, founder of the Adopt-a-Turkey Program, make Thanksgiving dreams come true for the Maryland, Washington, and Virginia area.

Brody Trucking of Baltimore and the Salvation Army will provide the trucks, and the Swirnow Company employees (on their own time) will haul the packages to Baltimore for distribution.

“Our Baltimore program amounts to about ten percent of the three-state program,” says Richard Swinow. “It's a huge undertaking. In the morning, at the grounds of the McLean Bible School, hundreds of volunteers form many assembly lines, unloading and repacking 32-35-pound boxes of whole turkeys, potatoes, vegetables, pumpkin pies, and fresh-baked rolls from the Safeway Bakery and onto lines of trucks waiting to move the packages throughout the three-state area.”


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