Twenty turkeys were donated to families on Fort Drum this weekend, thanks to a local program that has gathered national attention.
Jamie McGuire of Sackets Harbor started Poultry for Patriots in 2014 with a friend, Heather Eisenhooth.
They became close after Ms. McGuire went to buy some chickens from Ms. Eisenhooth to have in her backyard as a form of therapy for her husband who at the time was suffering from PTSD. Mrs. Eisenhooth donated the chickens, and they connected well since they were both military families.
They formed the patriot program as a way for other backyard breeders to have a way to donate to veterans and military families in Jefferson County.
They created a Facebook page together, breeders from all over the country got involved, as well as National Poultry Feed Supplier, Nutrena, who supplies T-shirts and coupons to their recipients.
“All Heather and I do is approve the applications and connect folks to a breeder in their area,” Ms. McGuire said. “For people who cannot have poultry but would like some fresh meat or eggs, we connect those folks too. We currently have over 500 donors from almost every state.”
Since 2014, Ms. McGuire has purchased 15 to 20 turkeys from Hannaford Supermarket to donate to military families. This year she reached out to Dave Anderson, the general manager of the Watertown Hannaford, to buy the turkeys, but he instead decided to donate them.
Ms. McGuire also connected with another friend, Carolynn Tee, whose husband recently returned from Afghanistan, to find soldiers who might need a turkey.
That’s how she would end up picking up the turkeys Saturday and delivering them to a unit on Fort Drum.