While the seventh year of the We Code, Too turkey giveaway looked a bit different Sunday amid the coronavirus pandemic, the need was the same.
“The need is again tremendous and I can’t speak to how proud I am of our community for standing up, speaking up once again and rallying to answer the call,” said former Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy, who leads the drive each year.
The organization handed out 200 turkeys and coats to needy families on Sunday ahead of the holiday.
Bellamy started We Code, Too to promote technology skills for African American and Latinx children and people leaving incarceration. For the past seven years, the organization has been giving out turkeys for needy families around Thanksgiving.
Although the drive didn’t start until 2:30 p.m., people were waiting as early as noon. Linda Walker had been waiting for more than an hour Sunday and was grateful.
“When people give out turkeys, God gives them a blessing back,” she said.
Those who came out Sunday were also able to get a coat for the winter. Typically, those are gathered in a drive in the previous winter, but it wasn’t held last year. However, Bellamy said community partners still came through with donations.
“It’s just about trying to fill a community need,” he said.
The organization also is donating turkeys for distribution at Friendship Court and public housing sites.
Bellamy said the event, like most everything, was changed by the pandemic, forcing organizers to get “creative.” It was held outside at the Jefferson School and people were encouraged to come in their cars. Everyone was required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing, although most just stayed in their vehicle.
“The pandemic is real, to say the least, but we live in a community that always steps up to the plate,” Bellamy said. “I want us to never underestimate the power of love and how we unify, and I think we’re a national model.”