Annual turkey drive brings joy and Thanksgiving meals to University Village

A person wearing a yellow shirt, a face mask and gloves carries a large frozen turkey.

For the seventh year in a row, the UC Berkeley Police Department delivered frozen turkeys, boxes of produce and gift cards to University Village families ahead of the holidays. (Photo courtesy UCPD)

Christmas came a bit early this year for 75 families at University Village, UC Berkeley’s family student housing community in Albany, where Thanksgiving fixings were delivered by the UC Berkeley Police Department as part of its annual turkey drive.

A photo shows two people standing in an open doorway. They are both wearing facemasks, and one of them holds a large frozen turkey.

This year, the number of University Village families participating in the turkey drive nearly doubled compared to last year. (Photo courtesy UCPD)

For the seventh year in a row, UCPD, in partnership with Cal Dining, University Village Management and the Police Officers union, bundled up a frozen turkey, a box of produce and a $40 gift card to Sprouts or Target, where families can pick out their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, said Sgt. Jacob Westlie who, with Lt. Sabrina Reich, led this year’s big-hearted effort.

The extra help this holiday season couldn’t have come sooner, Westlie added, as the economic fallout from COVID-19 continues to wallop lower-income Americans the hardest, leaving them in deep financial hardship.

“COVID-19 has impacted many families this year, so we are grateful to be able to deliver some much-needed joy and help support these families this Thanksgiving,” he said. “We are grateful for our partners, who made this possible with their generous donations.”

The number of University Village families participating in the turkey drive this year is nearly double that of last year. The annual drive is part of UCPD’s C.U.B.S., or Community United By Service, initiative.

Each year, University Village residents apply to be recipients of the turkey drive, and University Village Management also works with its community leaders to identify families in need.

University Village, spread across 77 acres, is a housing community for students who are married and/or have dependents; some 2,400 residents live there. It is owned and administered by the Berkeley campus.

The turkey drive has grown steadily in just a short time; when the program kicked off six years ago, only 30 families received the Thanksgiving package, officials said.

A photo shows a number of people in a garage, loading boxes into the back of a UCPD truck.

The annual turkey drive is run by UCPD, in partnership with Cal Dining, University Village Management and the Police Officers union. (Photo courtesy UCPD)