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This popular turkey giveaway is coming to an end after almost 20 years | CBC News


Windsor

Local developer Joe Mikhail will end his annual turkey giveaway after this year, saying he hopes to focus more on giving throughout the year to address hunger in the Windsor community. 

Joe Mikhail says he wants to find ways to help people year-round

people lined up outside.

People line up for the annual Mikhail turkey giveaway in a December 2017 file photo. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Local developer Joe Mikhail will end his annual turkey giveaway after this year, saying he hopes to focus more on giving throughout the year to address hunger in the Windsor community. 

Next week, they'll give away more than 500 turkeys, bringing the total number of turkeys donated over the last 19 years to about 10,000, feeding over 50,000 people, Mikhail said. 

"We fully appreciate that people are not only hungry one day out of the year, but they're hungry almost every day of the year and we need to find a way to provide food on a more regular basis," Mikhail said.

"So we're looking at programs to to assist in the food banks, to assist in various areas and to work with other groups to ensure that we not only contribute to this hunger one day a year, but as many days as we possibly can."

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Mikhail estimated the annual turkey giveaway costs between $40,000 and $43,000 each year, noting they work with partners to add vegetables and the other trimmings of a holiday meal. 

He says their giving will continue with the other causes Mikhail Holdings supports all throughout the year. 

While they've helped a lot of people over the years, Mikhail says the annual giveaway isn't something he looks forward to.

"I always hope that there would be no lineups. I always hope when I come in in the morning that there's not that many people in need. And I'm always wrong," he said. "I don't take comfort, I don't take pride, I don't take enjoyment in seeing it.

"Because the longer the lineups, the more we give, the sadder that makes me feel that there's that many people out there in need of food."

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The final Mikhail turkey giveaway will be held on Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. at the CIBC building on Ouellette Avenue and Riverside Drive. 

But while the Mikhail turkey giveaway is coming to a close, there are others for people in need of a little holiday help. 

Angie Goulet is a real estate agent with Angie Goulet and Associates, which has been doing a turkey giveaway for about eight years. 

"Back when we were in our early 20s, we had been self-employed for a couple of years and my husband didn't get paid on a big job and it was Christmas time and somebody filled our fridge with food," Goulet said. "I felt just like humbled and so grateful and just almost undeserving.

"My husband said to me, this year we need it. But one year, one day we'll be able to give so much back."

A woman in front of a Zoom camera.

Angie Goulet has been holding an annual turkey giveaway for eight years. This year she and her team will distribute 1,000 turkeys to people in need. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

This year Goulet will give away around 1,000 turkeys, and each will come in a package with vegetables, stuffing and desserts, a whole package of food for the holidays, thanks to donations from the community. 

Registration was held on Dec. 5, and Goulet said more than 100 people registered in the first four minutes. 

This year they're delivering the turkeys, and Goulet said it happens with the help of an army of volunteers. 

"Every year I'm surprised by the need and you know,  it's really humbling again to be able to be a part and be able to help ," she said. "But also this year more than ever, we've had so many phone calls, so many people saying ...'would we be able to get a turkey?"

While Goulet says she understands the feelings of sadness about there being such a huge need in the city, she says it also comes with a lot of hope. 

"I once didn't have a turkey dinner for Christmas, but I received one and a long time later we're able to be giving back. So there's hope," she said. "There's the fact that a whole community comes out and and works alongside me to get this done just shows me the kind of people that Windsor is made of."

With files from Dalson Chen

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