The Salt Lake nonprofit distributes nearly 3,000 Thanksgiving meals to those in need


Thousands of individuals and families in need headed to Smith’s Ballpark parking lot in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 to give away the Crossroad Urban Center’s annual turkey sweepstakes. (Aubrey Shafer, KSL-TV)

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SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of individuals and families in need headed to the Smith’s Ballpark parking lot Wednesday to give away the Crossroad Urban Center’s annual turkey giveaway.

The event was run with the help of volunteers from local schools, churches, and community members, as well as donations from the Harmons Grocery Store. According to Glenn Bailey, executive director of the Crossroads Urban Center, the turkey giveaway is an event they look forward to every year.

“We’ve been hosting this event since 1966 and Harmons has been helping us for about 20 years,” said Bailey. “During the first half of November, Harmons has a program called ‘Give a Gobble’ where customers can donate groceries to the Utah Food Bank and Crossroads Urban Center to provide turkey and side dishes for families in need for Thanksgiving. Last year we served 3,450 meals, and this year it’s a little slower, but we’re ready to serve 3,000. “

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the giveaway was a drive-through event last year to limit contact. This year the organizers decided to do the same.

“It went so well that we decided to keep going,” said Bailey. The pandemic is still ongoing so this also helps limit contact and the spread of disease. “

And while most of the turkeys were distributed by the drive-through method, there was a place for those without transportation.

Cara Lingstuyl, who said she used to work for the Crossroads Urban Center, was there volunteer with her two daughters and a family friend on Wednesday. Together they were given the task of distributing food to many homeless people in the area.

Lingstuyl and her daughters, 13-year-old Nora Vardeny and 16-year-old Lauryn Vardeny, have been volunteering at this event for almost a decade. The mother said it was good for her family to serve the community.

“My daughters have been doing this for as long as they can remember,” said Lingstuyl. “We come here every year and it is really good for us to help others in need.”

Lauryn Vardeny, Nora Vardeny, and Saerichai Baker-Rajsavong pose for a photo as they volunteer in the Crossroad Urban Center's Thanksgiving Turkey Sweepstakes in the Smith's Ballpark parking lot in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Lauryn Vardeny, Nora Vardeny, and Saerichai Baker-Rajsavong pose for a photo as they volunteer in the Crossroad Urban Center’s Thanksgiving Turkey Sweepstakes in the Smith’s Ballpark parking lot in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. (Photo: Cara Lingstuyl)

A friend of the family, 15-year-old Saerichai Baker-Rajsavong, said she was almost moved to tears while distributing food to the homeless.

“There are a lot of homeless people across the street near the 7-Eleven, and we’ve had a lot of people come here to get sandwiches,” Saerichai said. “We actually brought some cookies with us to give to the volunteers, but in the end we gave them to the homeless who came. There was even a child who came here with his father in a wheelchair. It almost moved me to tears. I’ve always loved finding ways to serve and I’m just so glad to be here. “

The event lasted from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and saw a steady stream of people benefiting from the services on offer.

While this event may be over, Bailey said that there are still many opportunities to serve. Anyone who wants to help can come by crossroadsurbancenter.org.


About the author: Arianne Brown

Arianne Brown is the mother of nine great kids and a former college runner who connects these two worlds word for word. To read more of her articles, visit the author page of Arianne KSL.com.

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