The Worship Center Christian Church in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, gave away 2,000 Thanksgiving turkeys in three hours last week, but that wasn’t enough to meet the demand from needy families.  People were still stopping by hours later after all the turkeys and bags of nonperishable food were gone, according to The Birmingham News.

While some economic indicators were beginning to point to a recovery at last, many families in the South were still suffering hard times headed into the holiday season.

At the Rick & Bubba Turkey toss. (Photo by Lloyd Gallman/Montgomery Advertiser)

In Augusta, Georgia, 1,100 turkeys were not enough for the crowd lined up for the 20th annual James Brown Turkey Giveaway.  The turkeys were gone in about an hour.  For awhile, the husband of James Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas, substituted fried fish from his restaurant, then that, too, ran out.  “When I look at this it hurts because you can’t give to everybody, but it goes to show the need is there.”  Thomas-Brown told The Augusta Chronicle.  She and other relatives of the late Godfather of Soul are in a fight with administrators of Brown’s estate, who have withdrawn support for the event.  Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, former tour manager for Brown, went to Augusta to help hand out turkeys on Sunday.

In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Maureen Kelly, director of the Beach Food Pantry, told The Virginian-Pilot that demand in the Outer Banks had increased 67 percent the past two years — and quadrupled since 2006.  “When you sort of peel back the layers here, there’s a working class here really struggling to make ends meet,” pantry vice-president Tommy Fulcher told The Virginian-Pilot.

In Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reported that area food pantries worry that donations will not be enough to carry them through the holidays.  Jane Trocheck Walker, head of the Daystar Life Center, told the Times that holiday donations normally are enough to meet demand through the spring but that her pantry likely will be bare by February.  Debbi McCarthy, development director for Feeding America Tampa Bay, said her organization is now serving about 518,000 people living in poverty in 10 counties in west-central Florida.

In Memphis, Tennessee, Ron Bezon, who oversees the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, told The Commercial Appeal, “When your donations drop off and the number of people you’re serving continues to go up, it’s a struggle. We’re seeing a lot of different faces this year, people with ‘deer in the headlights’ looks who have never needed help before.”

In Montgomery, Alabama, the nationally syndicated radio hosts of the Rick & Bubba Show do their part to help feed the poor not by handing out turkeys but by seeing who can throw a frozen turkey the farthest.  The annual Rick & Bubba Turkey Toss raises money for the Montgomery Area Food Bank.  Among the winners were David Sigler in the men’s division with a throw of 121 feet and Kate Conwell in the women’s division with a throw of 76 feet. It is unclear what happens to the frozen turkeys after they have been hurled across the pavement.

What happens if nobody throws you a Thanksgiving turkey? Sheriff’s deputies in Palm Beach County, Florida, were investigating the theft of about 100 rifles, shotguns and handguns, plus ammunition, from the First Choice Gun Store.

What happens if nobody throws you a Thanksgiving turkey and you’re hauling nuclear weapon parts? According to KnoxNews.com in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General substantiated 16 alcohol-related incidents from 2007 through 2009 involving special agents. Two incidents occurred during “secure transportation missions.”  In one incident, according to the report, “two agents were handcuffed and temporarily detained by police officers after an incident at a local bar.”

What if you’re an Alabama legislator and you think voters will treat you like a turkey? Four Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives switched parties this week, giving Republicans the  majority  in both chambers of the state legislature.

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.