MILWAUKEE — With Thanksgiving only days away, several organizations teamed up for the 'Make a Family Smile' Turkey Giveaway to provide turkeys to hundreds of Milwaukee families.

What You Need To Know

  • Hundreds of turkeys were given away to Milwaukee families at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center

  • The organizer said she started this tradition 13 years ago after a family in her community needed a turkey

  • The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office along with other organizations such as Milwaukee County Parks, We Care Crew, and King Advisory Inc. also assisted with the giveaway

Dee McCollum is the director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, who also organized the giveaway.

“I’ve been doing this for 13 years and each year gets more exciting and each year I get more teary,” said McCollum.

McCollum placed stickers on cars waiting in line to make sure they got what they needed.

She said turkeys were not the only things people are getting.

“We are giving out free clothes,” said McCollum. “We are giving out senior bags so the seniors not only get a turkey, they get a bag full of the sides to go with their turkeys.”

The generosity was not lost on Charles Jefferson—one of the many community members in line on Monday.

“It’s a blessing for the kids and for them to do,” said Jefferson.

Kristine Rodriguez, a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, guided traffic to help everything run smoothly.

“It’s just always an honor to come out here to see the community come together and all work towards a common purpose which is feeding Milwaukee during the holidays and that’s huge,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the sheriff’s office along with other organizations such as Milwaukee County Parks, We Care Crew, and King Advisory Inc. partner with McCollum because they believe in serving their community any way they can.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if the community realizes how important, how vital to keeping this community safe,” said Rodriguez. “They are the witnesses. They are the people that call in the crime or give us the information we need so that we can carry out our job.”

As more families receive their Thanksgiving turkeys, McCollum reflects on how the giveaway started with just one family needing a turkey 13 years ago.

“Our name is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said McCollum. “He was about the community. He was about making people better. It was not an “I” thing, it was a “we” thing, and if we do things like this and we do for our community and we continue to be together, someday we will be a better community.”

For McCollum, one way to become a better community is to make sure no one goes hungry, especially during the holidays.